An award-winning group of soft broom makers in Real, Quezon recently received a piece of equipment that could sweep one of their biggest production problems away: a special dryer for their grass raw material.

Called the non-wood forest products dryer, this equipment was developed by the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) and installed in Brgy. Maragondon, Real, Quezon to help the broom producers dry their tiger grass (Thysanolaena latifolia) even during the rainy season.

According to DOST-FPRDI's Maria C. Reyes, the Maragondon Dragon Grass SLP Association asked for the Institute's help in January this year as they were having problems drying their raw materials during rainy days.

The dryer was installed and commissioned in June with the guidance of the Institute's drying specialist Engr. Wency H. Carmelo. After air-drying for two days, pollen grains from tiger grass are usually removed by shaking or brushing the stalks against tree trunks and other hard surfaces. This takes too much time and effort. Using the dryer, the pollen grains can be easily removed after drying the stalks at 90oC for 2 hours. According to Jocelyn Capablanca, association treasurer, the dryer not only helps with pollen extraction, it also ensures that their materials are not attacked by black molds.

In 2019, the 56-member-strong broom makers association received the National Sibol Award for being an outstanding beneficiary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.

The dryer unit was funded by DOST’s Grants-In-Aid (GIA) Program, while its installation was made possible with the support of the DOST Provincial Office. (Rizalina K. Araral) ###