The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), through a project funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD), has developed a device that instantly measures quality of cacao beans.
The device is portable and easy to use. By just placing a few drops of the bean’s watery mucilage into the sensor receptacle, the freshness of harvested cacao beans can be assessed by measuring sugar and alcohol content. The sensor can also tell if beans are adulterated by assessing their water content and salinity.
A programmable software does the measurement and shows the results in a liquid crystal display similar to laptop monitors.
The cacao quality sensor and the software were developed by the research team led by engineer Reynaldo Gregorio through the DOST-PCAARRD-funded project “Development of Sensor Devices for Cacao Quality Measurement.”
The technology will be useful to suppliers, buyers of freshly harvested cacao beans and processors of chocolates. High quality and good tasting chocolates come from quality freshly harvested cacao beans. It is important that the raw materials are assessed prior to processing. Cacao beans with high sugar content and has not exhibited onset of fermentation is regarded as having high quality.
Using cacao quality sensor will encourage growers to command better prices. 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.
This sensor was in the Davao Region and plans to test it in other cacao-growing regions in the Philippines is underway. This is to further ascertain its performance and accuracy. Patent application for the technology is currently being arranged.