BY LYNNISSHA B.RUNA
DEMANDS for Solar Bubble Dryer Innovation for Cocoa Fermentation by farmers has increased.
Solar Bubble Dryer Innovation for Cocoa Fermentation is a device purposely developed to enhance cocoa drying process.
After it was introduced and demonstrated during a one-day occasion at the National Museum Auditorium last year, it has appealed the interest of a lot of farmers.
Managing Director of South Pacific Cocoa, Brian Atkin, who spearheaded the drive to introduce the device to the local farmers said this device is a new technology suitable for Solomon Islands cocoa farmers.
“This is the first time for this type of innovation to be introduced to local cocoa farmers in the country and Solomon Islands will be the first country in the pacific to use this new technology.
“They are very fortunate because this new technology allows farmers to dry their cocoa beans even when it’s raining for few days. It will give local cocoa farmers a better process of (fermentation) drying of cocoa.”
The solar bubble dryer is a tunnel type dryer manufactured by Grain Pro Company in Australia. It is an Israeli company and now they have moved to America and also set up their manufacturing company in the Philippines.
Mr Atkin, who is also the Managing Director of Makira Gold Solomon Islands said this technology is the way forward for cocoa farmers in Solomon Islands.
“The Solar Bubble Dryer consists of a transparent cover made of UV-resistant polyethylene fill connected to the black reinforced PVC drying floor by a heavy-duty zipper which it can turn on by solar battery power,” he explained.
“It takes about four days for farmers to dry their cocoa beans, it is quite easy to install and set up, it is moveable so you don’t have to build a little house for it-it is easy to transport and it can also be used to dry any other commodities such as copra.”
Ms Lucy Gasimae, a local cocoa farmer, buyer, and also an exporter hailing from Central Makira was also present during the one-day demonstration.
Ms Gasimae said: “We are so pleased that this new innovation has been introduced to us. It will benefit a lot of farmers. Most farmers like it and the demand will slowly increase.
“Not all of us prefer buying this new innovation, but most of us we are famers at the same time we are also buyers and exporters of cocoa therefore we always try our best to make sure we produce quality cocoa beans. And with such new innovation, it is significantly great.
“Because of the weather, it rains so often and with the normal sun dryer we don’t have a good chance to dry our cocoa beans, but with this new bubble dryer technique we hope that everything will work out well for us,” Ms Gasimae said.
She added the best part of the bubble dryer is that it allows the sun dryer even in wet weather.
Ms Gasimae also said this will directly help them (the farmers) to increase their production of cocoa to sell good quality cocoa beans in targeting the quality of marketing nationally and internationally.
Meanwhile, Atkin assured that this new innovation bubble dryer have some couple of great things about it.
“It allows the sun dryer even in wet weather.
“I am encourage you farmers that even though this solar dryer might be pretty expensive to you as entity farmers, I encourage you to try and work together to source one of this and it should between a small group of you farmers using it together.
“We know there is huge problem with cocoa production here in Solomon Islands because it rains so often. When it rains the existing sun solo dryer don’t function, because it really requires the sun in order to work,” he continued.
And he said, this new bubble dryer can protect cocoa beans from sudden rains, spillage losses, protect the commodity from the fowls, birds and other animals, offers protection from microbial contaminants and pathogens, and it does not use fossil fuel or biomass, hus prevent excessive effects of smoke to the cocoa
“More so can be install on any flat surface and produces a better cocoa quality taste,” he added.
He further stated that cocoa is an importance commodity; therefore Solomon island local cocoa producers must use this new innovation technique in order to export good quality cocoa to sustain our exporting privileges we currently enjoying.
“It’s not only to brings in foreign currency earnings which assist in our economic growth but this new innovation certainly will allow cocoa industry to grow,” he concluded.