A new device that instantly measures quality of freshness of cacao beans has been developed by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) through a project funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), based in Los Baños, Laguna.
The sensor device is portable and easy to use. 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 tell if the bean is adulterated by assessing its 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 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.”
This 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 high quality.
Using cacao quality sensor will encourage growers to command a better price. 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 has been tested in Davao 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 this technology is currently being arranged.