Inventor offers solution as DPWH discourages rice drying on highways

The Filipino Inventors Society Producers Cooperative urged the Department of Agriculture and local government units to tap a locally developed technology to dry palay (unmilled rice) more efficiently, after Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar asked farmers not to use the national highways as a post-harvest facility.

Inventor offers solution as DPWH discourages rice drying on highways
Members of the Filipino Inventors Society Producers Cooperative (FISPC) headed by Francisco “Popoy” Pagayon (fourth from left) showcases the Portasol solar dryer during the 25th National Inventors Week in Batac City, Ilocos Norte. 
FISPC president Francisco “Popoy” Pagayon said his invention called Portasol solar dryer could help small rice farmers and upland growers to dry palay faster using minimal space in their backyard, instead of using portions of concrete roads that result in accidents and post-harvest losses.

“Portasol has been available in the country for many years.  It is a much better solution to dry palay and other crops, compared to the primitive and inefficient method of using the national highways as a drying facility that affect the quality of the produce and block vehicular traffic in the provinces,” Pagayon said.

Portasol consists of aluminum thermal trays which are assembled in a rack format and covered with a net to preserve the heat from the sun and efficiently dry palay, corn, high-value crops, fish and other food products.  The net also protects the products from pests, bacteria, fungus, and the elements.

Pagayon said he used aluminum as a material because it is a good conductor of heat which makes the drying process faster even during the rainy days.

“The Portasol tray drying system is more effective, efficient and reliable as it is two to three times faster in drying crops compared to the conventional practice of pavement drying,” said Pagayon.

Pagayon endorsed Portasol after Villar called on the Department of Agriculture to provide facilities where farmers can dry their palay and other produce.  Villar said that as drying palay along national roads is prohibited, Filipino farmers should be provided with facilities specifically designed for post-harvest activities.

“We should build agriculture infrastructures so that the farmers don’t have to use our roads. Of course, on our part, we discourage the farmers from using the road,” Villar was quoted as saying in a report.

The Department of Public Works and Highways issued Department Order No. 41 in 2013 prohibiting the drying of palay and other farm produce along national highways.  Farmers who violate the order face a penalty of up to P1,000 or imprisonment of up to six months.

Sen. Ralph Recto said farmers were using national roads to dry their harvest because of the absence of drying equipment and infrastructure.

Pagayon said the best solution is the Portasol solar dryer which can avoid the problem of post-harvest grain losses amounting to P15 billion a year mainly because of the wasteful and unsanitary drying practices.

“FISPC has been offering Portasol as a better solution for palay drying for many years.  We want to help small and upland farmers so that they could improve the quality of their produce and thus command better prices,” he said.

“Drying palay on concrete roads is not only unsanitary, but also wasteful.  The grains are broken into smaller pieces because of the use of raker and whenever the wheels of trucks, jeepneys and other vehicles roll over the grains.  Imagine the large amount of stones and soil that mix with the grains. Farmers also spend a lot of time transporting the grains from the farms to the highway and the work is repeated every time it rains,” said Pagayon.

Farmers are also exposed to the danger of being bumped by vehicles, he said.

He said that in comparison, farmers can easily assemble the Portasol solar dryers on the farm itself or in the backyard.  “The grains dry faster in a safer means that does not compromise their quality.  It is also much easier to transfer the grains from the trays into sacks,” said Pagayon.

“Portasol is now being used in many barangays in Region 2, after the Department of Science and Technology found it useful not only for farmers, but also fishers,” he said.

“More importantly, Portasol is a Filipino innovation that addresses a major problem.  It is among the products developed and invented by FISPC to help our people,” Pagayon said.

Portasol is displayed at the FISPC’s showroom and business center at the Delta Building on Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. 

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña earlier endorsed Portasol as a solar drying option for various crops and products that can avoid unnecessary vehicular accidents.

The FISPC aims to introduce Portasol nationwide to revolutionize the entire post-harvest system.

The FISPC led the celebration of the 25th National Inventors Week in Batac, Ilocos Norte, in cooperation with the DOST and theTechnology Application Institute on Nov. 20 to 23.

The celebration featured an exhibit of Filipino inventions and related activities.

The Mariano Marcos State University, Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, the City of Batac and other institutional partners joined and supported the four-day activities that included science and technology forums and entrepreneurship seminars.

FISPC pushes its “InventrePinoy” program, an initiative to encourage Filipino inventors to develop their entrepreneurial skills and commercialize their inventions.

During the NIW event, MMSU president Dr. Shirley C. Agrupis said “investors struggle is real” and “the academe sector shares the same vision in transforming young people to be productive and proactive and to road track their capacity.”

Dela Peña, for his part, said “encouraging collaboration of various sectors, to get them together to come up with new inventions”  should be an aspiration. 

Bannered by the theme ”InventrePinoy for sustainable growth and prosperity,” the celebration showcased “unique and marketable Filipino inventions that can be competitive even in the world area,” Pagayon said.

“InventrePinoy” was initiated by Pagayon to help bridge the gap between inventors and entrepreneur.

“Together with the help of the academe, public and private institutions, the media, the government, and the business sector, we can make ‘Inventrepinoy,’ a big success. Let us encourage and support entrepreneurs ” Pagayon said.

Pagayon has to his credit eight inventions, all backed with patents. His most recent invention is the cannon-type electronic firecrackers that are designed to replace the harmful and risky pyrotechnics.

“With our cannon-type electric firecrackers, you can bring the celebration of New Year’s Eve inside your home without any risk to health and property,” said Pagayon.

Topics: Filipino Inventors Society Producers Cooperative , Department of Agriculture , Department of Public Works and Highways , Mark Villar
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