In compliance with the program guidelines of conducting monitoring on their funded technologies, the Department of Science and Technology-Technology Application and Promotion Institute (DOST-TAPI) through the Technology Innovation for Commercialization (TECHNICOM) program together with DOST-PCAARRD held a Zoom conference with the proponents of CACAO AID on June 22, 2020.
With eight DOST staff present, project proponents Engr. Ryann Alimuin and Engr. Joevil Razon of the Technological Institute of the Philippines shared updates on the current status of their CACAO AID project--a handheld electronic meter used to determine a cacao pod’s maturity by firing a low power microwave signal to measure the fruit’s internal viscosity.
According to Engr. Razon, the latest 3D-printed design features a display component that visualizes the output of the artificial intelligence (AI) system installed in the device. The AI system determines a cacao pod’s variety and checks if it is mature enough to harvest.
This technology can potentially help the Cacao industry in the Philippines recover the Php 84 million-peso loss in income due to the wasted harvest brought about by the misevaluation of Cacao pod’s maturity during harvest season.
Meanwhile, the government on the other hand, through the Department of Agricultue ensures that local cacao farmers receive high quality seedlings and works toward the integration of more competitive and sustainable agricultural production practices including the adoption of technologies and innovations that can help cacao farmers.
Currently, Cacao farmers employ the traditional ‘ticking method’ in checking the fruit’s ripeness, which is prone to misevaluation, along with the change in color of the fruit’s peel that is sometimes misinterpreted as the sign of ripeness.
At this year’s Philippine cacao industry forum, the government cited that the global demand for cacao is estimated to reach between 4.7 million to 5 million metric tons in 2020, however, a massive shortage is estimated at 1 million metric tons.
As a result the global shortage, the cacao industry in the Philippines faces a challenge of ramping up the cocoa production to increase the overall supply and with the CACAO AID, the loss in harvest can be lessened thus mitigating the supply shortage and meeting the government's goal of producing 100,000 tons more of cacao on top of the average produce.
On the other hand, Engr. Razon also reported that they have successfully filed the Intellectual Property application to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) for the CACAO AID.
The project is supposedly set to begin field testing this year. However, due to travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the field testing and other activities were put on hold.
While travel restrictions and quarantine protocols are still in place, the project proponents focused on reaching out to and communicating regularly with cacao farms in Davao and CALABARZON for possible technology adoption and possible partnerships in the future.
The proponents assured that they will be exerting the necessary effort to ensure the success of their project despite the limitations caused by the current health crisis in the country.
To know more about TECHNICOM go to: http://tapitechnicom.dost.gov.ph/