“This is a milestone in research initiatives,” said Dr. Raul F. Muyong during the launching of the Programmable Dehydrator Machine for Herbal Tea Materials at Ephrathah Farms, Inc., Brgy. Sariri, Badiangan, Iloilo on October 25, 2019.
Dr. Juanito C. Batalon, Director for Agricultural Resource Management Research Division (ARMRD), also lauded the project as an advancement and a milestone in agriculture. ARMRD is one of the five technical research divisions of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD). It is responsible for two commodities: Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Ecosystem.
Funded by the DOST-PCAARRD, the project addressed the issue on production cost of drying and the quality of the dried materials.
Project leader Dr. Renerio S. Mucas said that the machine minimizes the cost of the drying process. “The machine is multi-powered and solar power is main power source to maintain temperature; it is renewable so it lessens the production cost,” he explained.
“Research and experiment was also used to increase the quality of drying to optimize retention of phytochemicals and nutrients,” added Dr. Mucas. A comparative test to determine the level of nutrients was conducted between the raw materials and its products dried the traditional way. “The result shows that most phytochemicals are lost due to either over exposure or too much heat, so the tea drinkers could not avail the nutritional value of the herb,” he said.
“So we established the right drying temperature for a specific material to keep its highest level of phytochemicals, “he continued, “thus, we develop the machine with programmable temperature to dry herbs with minimal cost but retains its highest nutritional and medicinal value.”
The machine was built for malunggay, guava, guyabano, and roselle tea.
“This project is in the priority area of smart farming, precision agriculture and automation in agricultural productions,” described Dr. Batalon. He also shared some of the projects and programs funded by the ARMRD and encourages more research and innovations geared towards the advancement of agriculture.
Dr. Raul F. Muyong, on the other hand, committed to develop more projects and envisions ISAT U to be a research university. The university president punctuated the importance of research and innovations and its impact to the community. He cited the Multi-powered Drying Machine for Food Processing, a similar project which was launched in 2018. The project has already created impact to the livelihood of seaweeds farmers in Brgy. Tiabas, San Dionisio, Iloilo. According to him, it was presented by the PASUC in the Senate budget hearing to support the budget for research activities of the State Universities and Colleges.
Engr. Ed Roderick V.Canuto, General Manager of Ephrathah Farms, Inc. is positive that the project benefits more beneficiaries and could create more linkages. He also emphasized on values, character and attitude needed to create an impact and outcomes. Ephrathah Farms is the partner of the project.