E-sensor device measures cacao bean quality instantly

A new electronic sensor device was developed by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), which could instantly measure quality of freshness of cacao beans.

cacao beans_PHOTO

PHilMech is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture that is responsible for spearheading the development of postharvesting.

The new technology project, funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), is portable and easy to use.

The cacao quality sensor and the software have been developed by the research team, led by Engr. Reynaldo P. Gregorio through the PCAARRD-funded project “Development of Sensor Devices for Cacao Quality Measurement.”

According to PCAARD, by just placing a few drops of the bean’s watery mucilage into the sensor receptacle, one can already assess the freshness of harvested cacao bean by measuring its sugar content and alcohol content.

The sensor device can also detect if the bean is adulterated by assessing its water content and salinity. The software also measures the results in a liquid crystal display similar to laptop monitors.

PCAARRD also assessed that the new technology proves useful to suppliers, buyers of freshly harvested cacao beans and processors of chocolates.

It reported that since high quality and good tasting chocolates come from quality freshly harvested cacao beans, the process entails the importance that raw materials are assessed prior to processing. Cacao beans with high sugar content and have not exhibited onset of fermentation are deemed as high quality.

The use of the cacao quality sensor will encourage growers to command a better price as buyers will be assured that the quality of the beans sold to them is within acceptable range. Similarly, processors will benefit from using high quality cacao beans as raw materials for chocolate processing.

The sensor has been tested in Davao and plans are underway to test the new electronic sensor in other cacao-growing regions in the country.

The testing will further ascertain the sensor device’s performance and accuracy in the meantime that the patent application is currently being arranged by the technology developers. – DOST, PNA

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