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This is a continuation of an earlier post on roads being used as solar dryers. Our trip across Tarlac brought us to more of these facilities being used for agricultural purposes. The following photos are from San Jose and Mayantoc towns, which are obviously predominantly agricultural. The photos show lands devoted to agricultural as far as the eye could see and most are planted with rice.
A friend commented that something should be done to reduce if not eliminate such practices along roads. I replied that this is basically the responsibility of local government units including barangay officials who should be educated about the dangers posed to travellers as well as the deterioration in the quality of the rice as it gets compromised from the waste and grinding they get from vehicles. In terms of practicality and recognising the limitation in funds for solar dryers, roads seem to be the easier and versatile option. Basketball courts and other concreted spaces scattered around the countryside do not make sense where roads would have more use especially to address accessibility issues (e.g., farm to market roads).
Another friend commented on the earlier post that he almost had a collision with another motorcycle rider as the entire road was covered with rice being dried by farmers. I reasoned out that for rural roads with very low traffic, a single lane covered with rice could be tolerable but using the entire road width just is not right. Motorcycle can easily slip or skid along such rice-covered roads resulting in serious injuries if not fatalities. For most cases of what I’ve seen recently, the roads quality as having low traffic and rice is being dried only along one lane so we know at least that people are aware that one lane should at least be free of obstructions.
4 – That’s corn being dried just beside the pick-up truck in the photo.
8 – Bad practice of spreading the grains across the entire road carriageway
The last photo is of corn kernels being dried on a basketball court. You can see the cobs piled near the stage, which shelters what looks like sacks of corn. As I mentioned earlier, it is possible to have such basketball courts or social facilities to be used as solar dryers. Even schools grounds can be used for this purpose but only for weekends or during the summer breaks. However, it would be impractical to have basketball courts and plazas scattered all over the countryside just for this purpose especially in places where there aren’t much people in the first place. Roads still offer the more flexible use (i.e., access/FMR and solar dryer) as long as traffic is not significant. Perhaps where traffic is significant (i.e., significantly populated areas) then such “off-road” facilities should be constructed. But again, the responsibility for making sure roads are clear of agricultural products would fall unto the LGUs.
We are currently undertaking a project for the Province of Tarlac that looks into the safety along its rural roads (both national and provincial roads) including those providing access to tourism areas in the province. Along many rural roads are agricultural lands producing rice, corn, fruits, vegetables and other products. Often, travellers will encounter roads that serve another purpose other than transport – as solar dryers. Before rice is milled, it needs to be dried first so that it would be easier to remove the husk (i.e., separate the bigas from the ipa – together they are called palay). While it is possible to do this drying on mats (banig) spread over the land/soil this takes time. Meanwhile, portland cement concrete roads offer what seems to be the perfect surface for drying. As such, certain roads have been known to get justification for concreting despite low traffic volumes as they double as solar dryers. There are similar cases for basketball courts or village plazas receiving funding for concreting for the same reasons. Obviously, laying out rice on the roads have implications on the quality of the rice later on as vehicles will inevitably (even inadvertently) pass through the roads. I guess its even worse in cases when the road surface is of asphalt concrete. Following are photos I took along rural roads in Bamban, Capas and San Jose towns of Tarlac.
Other items that are usually dried on the roads include tingting (the stems of coconut leaves that are used to make brooms – walis tingting) barbecue and fish ball sticks. I have also seen fish being dried on the road one time during a trip to Northern Luzon. Obviously, among the risks are the rice being grinded by the tires of vehicles (resulting in durog na bigas more suitable for porridge), fuel or oil compromising the rice, and the prospects of animals doing their thing on the road near or on the rice!
More on these solar dryers in the next post!
Romulo Highway originates from Tarlac City and passes through the towns of Sta. Ignacia, Camiling and San Clemente in Tarlac, and then the towns of Mangatarem, Aguilar, Bugallon and in Pangasinan. It ends at Lingayen, Pangasinan, in essence connecting the capitols of two major provinces in Central Luzon (Region 3/Tarlac) and the Ilocos (Region 1/Pangasinan).
Transition to a bridge – the reverse curve leads travelers to the Bugallon Bridge across the Agno River (direction towards Lingayen). Note the 20-ton limit of the bridge indicating that it is a relatively new bridge applying the DPWH standards for load limits.
Padilla Bridge – is a steel truss bridge that is older than the Bugallon Bridge not only based on the form (many old bridges along national highways are steel truss bridges) but also on the load limit of 15 tons. The lane widths are also narrower than that of the Bugallon Bridge.
Crossroads – vehicles turning to the left will be headed back towards Tarlac through Bugallon and Mangatarem. Going straight will take the traveler to the towns of Labrador, Sual and the general direction of Alaminos and Bolinao. The SUV on the left is headed for Lingayen and Dagupan.
Provincial boundary – a simple arch marks the boundary between Pangasinan and Tarlac. A little further downstream is another arch formalizing the boundary for the Municipality of San Clemente in Tarlac.