According to Termite Survey, in the Philippines, losses from post-harvest and storage due to pests for corn can reach as high as 50%, resulting in massive reduction in total yield and profits especially in rural areas where storage facilities do not have adequate protection against these pests. At present, industry standards for controlling post-harvest and storage pests utilize a two-prong method via cooling with dry ice (to prevent condensation within the stored produce) to reduce pest activity and fumigation to kill the pests.
However, this method is expensive and therefore, unfeasible for many rural farmers who have neither the financial resources nor access to the needed materials. There lies one of the biggest problems in the Philippine agricultural post-harvest and storage system, and one that I hope I can present a good solution for.
My name is Josine A. Macaspac, a 27-year old Agriculture graduate from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños who majored in Entomology. Due to my academic background, I came to understand the economic and ecological impact that insect pests have in agricultural systems in the Philippines and how essential it is to have a pest management solution that is effective, safe for the environment, sustainable and most importantly, affordable for the farmers.
Currently, I am working as a freelance writer online, specializing in blogging, copywriting, and social media management. As such, I also understand the power in utilizing social media for information dissemination and increasing education and awareness to the problems encountered in local and global agriculture. It is through this unique combination of my academic background and the principles and skills which I have learned by working online, that I hope to be able to address the aforementioned operational gap in the Filipino agricultural industry.
The project that I am proposing is the Mechanical Post-Harvest Pest Removal System (MPReS). It is a manually-operated, mechanical device that can be used by farmers to easily and effectively remove post-harvest and storage pests in stored rice and corn (which are the most economically and socially important agricultural goods that the Philippines produce). Additionally, it can also be used for other grains such as wheat, millet, and sorghum.
The mechanics of the device is simple. The farmer loads the produce (grain / corn / etc.) into the device through a hopper and using a foot pedal, power the device. The produce will be kept in a large compartment with adjustable perforations at the bottom, so that it can be used for a variety of grains, as well as corn. When the machine is operated through pedal power, the main compartment will start vibrating the produce, effectively dislodging the pests, which will then fall through the holes and into a collection tray below.
A “tumbling” apparatus will also be fastened to the device to effectively mix the produce, ensuring that all pests are removed. The device will be designed to hold up to 50 kilos of produce at a time (which equals to a sack) and the whole process will only take an estimated 5-8 minutes to complete. Afterwards, the farmer can open a hatch on the other end of the device, push up a lever to tilt the compartment, and slide the cleaned and pure grains or corn produce out into another waiting sack. The produce can now be stored or is ready for the market.
With the help of this device, a farmer can effectively clean 600 kilos of rice or 12 sacks of produce in a single hour without the use of electricity or expensive fuel. This makes MPReS functional even in the most rural farms where electricity and fuel may be scarce. The ability of the device to process large amounts of produce quickly in a simplified manner without the need for fuel or electricity makes the device cheaper and easier to maintain in the long run makes it a practical investment for all farm owners. This is a device that can benefit both small-scale and large-scale grain and maize producers in the country, anywhere, anytime.
The main motivation for this project is to be able to provide rural, small-time farmers (of which there are thousands in the Philippines) an effective, affordable, and environmental-friendly way to control post-harvest and storage pests. This can even be applicable in a community scenario, where a community of grain-growing farmers can purchase a single machine that can be used by the whole community. Furthermore, since the device will not use any form of chemical control, it can be used by organic farms as well.
The goal of MPReS is to reduce, if not completely eliminate, losses from post-harvest and storage pests by removing both immature and mature life stages of the pests which damage grains and corn. If this device can reduce post-harvest and storage losses even by 10-15%, this will translate immensely to increased profits for farmers.
The device is in the planning stages right now. I have consulted with mechanical engineers affiliated with the University of the Philippines, Diliman with regards to the cost of materials, cost of building the device, and the internal mechanical workings of the device to make it as simple as possible to operate and maintain without compromising its effectiveness, affordability, and durability.
We are also researching on what mechanical method would be most effective in dislodging the pests (shaking, tumbling, etc.) without compromising the quality and integrity of the produce. Also, as an entomologist, I have researched on how large the perforations should be so that it would be effective on different pests such as weevils, beetles, etc. At present, a draft of the first prototype is being designed.
MPReS has a clear and concrete measurable outcome: a final working design that can remove pests from an infested bag of grains with minimal effort and time, leaving only behind cleaned produce when the process is finished. The device must be affordable for farmers, easy to clean and operate, and durable so that it can be used for years.
I plan to use the $5000 grant in research, development, production, and testing of the final product.
- $1500 of the grant will be used to pay for consultancy services, since I will be enlisting the technical expertise of two licensed mechanical engineers as well as their equipment and knowledge in building the device itself. I project that within five (5) months, our team will be able to come up with a working prototype.
- $2500 will be used to purchase the materials needed in order to build at least two (2) working prototypes of the device. The whole process of purchasing the materials, constructing the device, and getting it ready for testing will occur during the aforementioned five months.
- $1000 will be used to travel to grain and corn growing areas of the Philippines to search for local farms or storage facilities who will be willing to help us test the prototypes. The money will be used for vehicle rentals (to transport the machines), gas, food, accommodations, and other small expenses. This part will take at least four (4) months, considering the travel time, looking for partner farmers, and if possible, looking for multiple farms that have different grain products and corn to test all possible products and possible post-harvest and storage pest species.
I believe that this project will have a lasting and significant impact on Philippine agriculture, for now, and for countless generations to come. I hope that, someday, it is an innovation that will have a global impact as well. With that being said, I hope that this device concept was able to MPReS you.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Josine A. Macaspac (Philippines) – josinemacaspac[at]yahoo.com
Illustration courtesy: Dax Olfindo
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
This post is published as proposal #62 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.
The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.
As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:
- Leave a comment (question, suggestion,..) on this project in the comment field at the bottom of this page
- Support the post by clicking the “Like” button below (only possible for those with a WordPress.com account)
- Spread this post via your social media channels, using the hashtag: #GCARD3
Have a look at the other “YAP” proposals too!
As a donor, support young agripreneurs and sponsor this unique project. Check out the side column for our current sponsors.
“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.