Enterprising 23-year-old Filipino Ninna Fajardo created a portable, weather-adaptable dryer to assist local farmers preserve the quality of cacao beans, prevent post-harvest losses and generate income as a raw material supplier.
Dubbed as SICAP, a play on cacao capsule and sikap – the Filipino word for hard work – the hybrid system is equipped with a built-in heater that enables continuous drying process regardless of the season.
“The Philippines is an exceptional spot for cacao farming,” Fajardo started. “We can harvest all-year-round and produce high-quality beans that can compete in the global market. However, rainy seasons prove to be a challenge.”
“For some, the traditional sun drying beds may already do the job well. But since the rains are unpredictable, the whole process can be interrupted and thus prolonged. There will be formation of molds and the beans can no longer be sold,” she added.
The young inventor, who pursued her degree under the Industrial Design Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, was motivated to provide a novel solution to address the issue within the local agricultural sector via innovation.
For research and validation, Fajardo conducted qualitative interviews with farmers and business owners. She likewise sourced cacao pods from Mindanao to have firsthand experience in handling, fermenting and test-drying the grains.
The finished product comes in a circular stacked form, with a built-in heater that can be regulated through a digital thermostat and hygrometer. It also features a collapsible cover that retains temperature and protects compartments from the external environment conditions.
“When it is raining, farmers can use the stacked layout to prevent the beans from getting wet, and continue drying with the heater,” she explained. “Since each compartment has a swivel mechanism, it also enables them to opt for an open layout. This can be utilized for sun-drying. It allows equal exposure of each drying compartment to sunlight.”
SICAP includes removable inner baskets for loading and unloading of beans as well as interchangeable compartment covers suitable for any weather. It also has wheels so farmers can easily transport the dryer and the beans conveniently.
Fajardo recently concluded her collegiate journey as Cum Laude. SICAP was likewise recognized with the Best Thesis Award. This followed the criteria from the World Design Organization, a globally recognized non-governmental network that champions the power of industrial design in enhancing the economic, social, cultural and environmental quality of life.
Fajardo’s experience includes designing graphic packaging for giant brands KitKat, Strengths Philippines and Ink Scribbler, plus local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
For more information about Benilde Industrial Design, visit https://www.benilde.edu.ph/undergraduate-industrial-design/.