A long ribbon of palay grains drying along the highway.
OAS, Albay: The modern post-harvest technology introduced by the Department of Agriculture (DA) has developed a device that outmoded in this major rice-producing town the tedious old practice of drying newly harvested palay under the heat of the sun.
This mechanical device, called Flat Bed Dryer (FBD), is where fresh grains are loaded and laid out on a perforated screen flooring and dried through a diesel-powered axial fan that forces hot air from the plenum below the grain bed.
The heat is provided by a furnace that uses rice hull as fuel.
Obtained last year through a grant by the farmers’ association in barangay Maporong here from the DA’s regional office for Bicol based in Pili, Camarines Sur, the device is capable of drying to the ideal moisture content of 14% 10 tons of newly harvested palay in 10 hours.
It now serves not only as a post-harvest facility for the association’s 158 members but also a source of income for the organization that covers an irrigated rice area of some 200 hectares, each hectare producing an average of 100 bags of palay per harvest.
Farmers from neighboring areas have also been availing themselves of its services, making the facility operational 24/7 during harvest season.
Association President Margarito Rebusquillo in an interview over the week said they earn more from using the FBD because immediately after threshing, farmers need not wait for the heat of the sun to dry their palay.
All the farmers need to do is bring their harvest in, load them on the dryer and on the next day, their products are ready for milling or delivery to buyers like the National Food Authority, Rebusquillo said.
Using the FBD, he said, is more economical as it minimizes grains losses during sun drying and provides high dried palay quality even during wet season. It is also less laborious and does not require vast spaces like roads, highways and multipurpose pavements for dying.
Farmers who have their palay dried by FBD can sell them up to P17 per kilo even during the wet season, while overall post-harvest losses are reduced by about 15%.
Drying palay on the road, which is a practice that most farmers do, is wasteful as it can result in up to 8.7% rice losses, according to the 1996 report of the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension. - PNA