14 Jan 2013

Solar methods being tested to dry cocoa beans

6:06 am on 14 January 2013

The Ministry of Agriculture in Solomon Islands is developing a hybrid model of drying cocoa using the sun.

The Ministry and the AusAID-funded Cocoa Livelihoods Improvement Project tested two solar drying methods last year and have chosen one of them to conduct further trials and to fine tune the model.

The Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Frank Wickham says farmers are working on creating a hybrid model to allow the use of burning some firewood when there is limited sunlight, to keep the drying process going.

He says the model measures three by four metres and can dry up to 200 kilograms of cocoa beans at one time.

"It's a raised bed that has plastic walling around it and a plastic roof. And the design is such that the heat passes through, sun energy, through plastic. And the plastic is designed so that we can retain as much of the heat as possible but not to allow moisture to build up within the drier."

Frank Wickham says the solar model is cheap to create and will save farmers time and money.