The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has fabricated a salt harvester to hasten the production of salt, which came in time amid a shortage of salt supply in the country, among other agricultural products.
The DOST deployed the first ever locally fabricated salt harvesting equipment in Occidental Mindoro. It should be noted that Occidental Mindoro was earlier among the country’s biggest salt producers.
Researchers from the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the DOST (DOST-ITDI) developed the salt harvester that was designed to mechanize the process of salt crushing, washing and harvesting even during rainy season in deep crystallizer saltern.
The project was done in partnership with JALD Industries Corp., and through the support of the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), the project’s monitoring agency.
It was funded through the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (Cradle) Program under the Science for Change Program.
The salt harvester can shorten harvesting period from months to a couple of weeks, addressing the issues on salt impurities contamination and economic losses, the DOST-PCIEERD said.
The equipment was developed to address the tedious manual method of crushing, piling and hauling using rakes, cane baskets, and wheelbarrows for salt harvesting.
It also seeks to improve the quality, productivity and efficiency of solar salt processing in deep crystallizer salterns.
The technology can be adopted by other solar salt producers practicing deep crystallizer salterns, which does not only provide opportunities to the local salt industry but to the local fabrication industry as well, DOST-PCIEERD added.
“This project was borne out of the necessity to create a solution in reducing the time required to produce salt with improved quality. At a time when we are experiencing supply issues, this is how science and technology comes in as a bearer of solutions,” said DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico C. Paringit.
Paringit expressed hope that the salt industry players adopt the new technology and help mitigate the challenges that it faces.
It was recently disclosed that there is shortage in salt supply in the country that led to increase in price.
This made the Department of Trade and industry to increase the price for 500 grams of iodized rock salt at P21.75, and P23 for 1 kilogram (kg); and P16 to P21.25 for 500 grams, and P29.00 for 1 kg for iodized salt.
The Department of Agriculture said at least 93 percent, or 550,000 metric tons, of the salt supply in the country is being imported, and only 7 percent is locally produced, despite the country’s having 36,000 kilometers of shoreline.
The situation led the DA, headed by President Marcos Jr., to bare its plan on scaling up salt production to reduce the country’s dependence on imported salt.
Included in the plan is working with the DOST and other concerned government agencies to fully develop the local salt industry, under the Republic Act 8172, or the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (Asin) in 1995.
The weakening of the “long-neglected” salt industry is partly attributed to the passage of Republic Act 8172, or the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (Asin) in 1995, which requires all producers of food-grade salt to iodize the salt that they produce, manufacture, import, trade or distribute for human and animal consumption.
Small salt producers, who use traditional production system, said this made salt production expensive.
The Asin law seeks to support the advocacy in battling the problem of micronutrient deficiencies, specifically iodine deficiency disorders.
Besides Occidental Mindoro, the country’s biggest salt producing areas—Bulacan, Pangasinan, Las Piñas City and Cavite—provided 85 percent of the country’s annual salt requirements, Internet sources say.
In his column in BusinessMirror, Atty. Dennis Gorecho said among the causes of the decrease in salt production in the country is pollution from industrial and domestic sewerage draining into Manila Bay that destroyed the pristine waters that has been the primary ingredient of salt.
Other causes are land developments, such as bay area reclamation and coastal road construction, that disrupted salt production, and the conversion of salt-bed areas into fishponds and residential and commercial properties.
Image credits: DOST-PCIEERD, DOST-PCIEERD