By: Mae Angelica Fabito-Famini, DOST-MIMAROPA PSTC-Romblon

      Marcelina Servanez, DOST-MIMAROPA PSTC-Romblon

      Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office

The floating seaweed dryer technology sitting near the seaweed production area

To scale up the seaweed industry of Romblon, the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA in conjuction with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Romblon (BFAR-Romblon) is set to launch the Floating Seaweeds Dryer Technology in the town of Looc this 2nd week of September in time with the harvest season of seaweeds in the area.

BFAR-Romblon related that, although marble and coconut production are the primary sources of income in the province, seaweeds provide a remunerative livelihood among fisherfolks especially those in the southern part of Tablas Island wherein Looc is situated. Among the seaweed commodities produced in the province, dried seaweeds provide a more definite and stable income for the fisherfolks as there is a consistent demand from Cebu and other processing centers.

Due to high and frequently urgent demands, seaweed farmers resort to sun drying of harvested crops to prolong its shelf life and for easy transportation. Traditionally, farmers spread the harvested seaweeds in open areas, prompting them to halt the drying process during rainy days Thus, there is a decrease in production volume.

On the other hand, buyers usually prefer seaweeds with lesser, if not free from, impurities. Once exposed to rain and other contaminants, the market price of seaweeds lowers accordingly.

In a forum organized by the DOST-MIMAROPA, the Floating Seaweeds Dryer Technology was introduced to the local seaweed farmers and LGUs in the town of Looc aimed at addressing their problems and constraints.

The facility is simple yet durable and easy to construct. Since it is mobile, it can be towed directly or near the farmer’s production area to lessen the exposure to such contaminants as sand and dirt that are usually acquired during hauling of fresh seaweeds from the sea to the drying area.  Moreover, the greenhouse/U-V treated sheets cover the facility thereby protecting the seaweeds from airborne contaminants and allowing drying even during rainy seasons.

The facility also has built-in exhaust fans, which are powered by solar panels, to facilitate quick and uniform drying of fresh seaweeds. Having these farmer-friendly features, it has the capability of drying two (2) tons of high quality fresh seaweeds in just a matter of three (3) days sans any inconsistency in the production.

The Floating Seaweeds Dryer was developed by Dr. Ronel S. Pangan from UP Los Baños-College of Engineering and Technology under the auspices of DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARD). It is one of the technological innovations intended to further boost the burgeoning aquaculture industry and the economy of the region at large.