|By Pinoy Farmer | May 7, 2009|
As pili nut is indigenous only in the Philippines, the government has long since recognized its economic importance in the country as a potential export crop. It ranks second to cashew nuts and has been a good stand-in for macadamia nuts. Pili nut is produced and processed mostly in the Bicol region.
As the demand for pili continues to grow, the supply is hardly met. One main problem of the industry is in post-production operation and processing. Most of the workers still resort to traditional de-shelling using bolo.
The difficulty of processing pili forced the farmers to sell their pili to traders at very low prices, and making them get most of the benefit. With the use of the pili nut cracker, the farmers are assured of an additional income of 1.50 per kilo of pili nut.
The first prototype pili nut cracker was developed in 1995 by the Agricultural Engineering Department of the Camarines Sur State College (CSSAC). It used steel rollers to crack the pili shells. Unfortunately, the shells were cracked in irregular manner, thus eventually damaging the kernel.
The Catanduanes State College Laboratory High School (CSCLHS) also developed a four-part pili nut cutter made from indigenous materials. The four-part cutter consisted of a framework, case, hammer, and blade. Result showed great improvement in the efficiency of de-shelling. It was 80% more time efficient than the manual method. However, the developed cracker was still insufficient to deliver the acceptable capacity.
There were several pili nut crackers fabricated after the first cracker from the steel rollers-operated machine to the mechanically-operated pili nut cracker. But there were still problems in terms of efficiency or capacity, either the shells are unevenly cut, thus damaging the kernel or the cracking capacity is low. Other problems included the feeding and conveying of pili nuts into the machine and the limited number of skilled workers to crack pili.
pili nut crackerPrompted by the need for appropriate tools and equipment in processing pili nut, the Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (DA-BPRE), Tropics Agro-Industries (KOLBI) and DA-Regional Field Unit (RFU) 5 developed the latest mechanical pili nut cracker. The team was headed by Engr. Arnulfo P. Malinis, Engr. Estrella A. Calpe, and Engr. Alan P. Rabe of BUCAF.
The prototype consisted of a six-blade cracker powered by a 1hp electric motor. The motor’s energy consumption is 0.41 kwhr. The machine consists of five major parts: the cracking unit, conveying unit, stand/frame, transmission, and primemover. The prototype was tested with the help of local cooperators from Casiguran, Irosin, and Guinobatan using three major parameters: cracking capacity, the cracking efficiency and economic viability.
Technology verification of the prototype showed that on the average, it can crack 204 pieces of pili nut in a minute (117 kg/hr) with a cracking efficiency averaging 93% with 89% whole kernel recovery. It is a one-man operated machine that could crack bags of dried pili nuts faster than the other developed nut cracker. For eight hours a day, this simple machine could crack 16 bags of dried nuts. The result is comparative to the output of four persons in one day.
The mechanical pili nut cracker also proved to be economically viable. To produce the machine an outlay amounting to P 40, 000 is needed. The return of investment is guaranteed at 53% after more than a year of use.
The difficulty of processing pili forced the farmers to sell their pili to traders at very low prices, and making them get most of the benefit. With the use of the pili nut cracker, the farmers are assured of an additional income of 1.50 per kilo of pili nut. With this technology, the adoption of a village level pili-processing system is slowly established. Farmers will be trained to use the pili machineries and other equipment for postharvest processing, thus enabling them to develop their own micro-enterprise to sell pili products at prices they set. Farmers are able to sell pili not as fruit but as kernel at a higher price. Also, the mechanization of the de-shelling process will create job opportunities for the unemployed women in the region.
The technology developed by BUCAF was presented during the 14th National Research Symposium on 27 November 2002 at the BSWM Convention Hall. It won the AFMA Outstanding R & D Paper Award for Agricultural Engineering, Processing and Post-harvest (downstream research).
For more information about the mechanical pili nut cracker, please contact Engrs. Arnulfo P. Malinis, Estrella A. Calpe, or Alan P. Rabe at Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF), Guinobatan, Albay or you may call them through these numbers: 484-6336 (Bayantel) or 838-0297 Digitel