Villages to benefit from small-scale corn mill

AN agricultural engineer in UP Los Baños (UPLB) has developed a small-scale corn mill suitable for village-level operation. Engineer Balbino Geronimo of the College of Engineering and Agro-industrial Technology had in mind the country’s small corn-producing villages when he designed the mini corn mill.

In the Philippines, people in several barangays (village) plant and consume white corn as their staple food. These barangays are usually in remote areas and thus have difficulty accessing commercial corn mills. In these areas, putting up a large-scale corn mill would cost millions of pesos and may not be cost-effective or even feasible.

As a result, most of the farmer’s white corn produce is traded instead of consumed. The farmer would have to buy milled corn or rice for his family, Geronimo explained.

Mini corn mill specs

The mini corn mill developed at UPLB can process corn grains, dried to 14 percent moisture content, at a rate of 91 kilograms per hour. The dried corn grain is loaded into a hopper that puts the grain inside the milling drum. Before the corn grits are passed onto the sieve tray, it is cleaned by a blower.

The grits are then graded by size by the sieve tray, producing grits with sizes #10, 12, and 14. All of the grits, including the produced corn bran, exit through separate outlets and are collected in pails or sacks.

Although only 42 percent of the grains milled become grits, the by-products may also be used for food and feeds, hence, nothing is wasted.

The corn mill weighs less than 200 kilograms making it ‘portable’ enough for moving from one village to another. It is powered by a 5 horsepower gasoline engine and therefore needs no electricity.

Good size for farmers’ organizations

White corn yield in most remote areas is about two tons per hectare, according to Dr. Artemio Salazar of the Crop Science Cluster-College of Agriculture. Using the UPLB mini corn mill as an investment, a village would need just 73 hectares per season to match the mill’s capacity. IPB has developed open-pollinated varieties that could easily yield four tons per hectare, with which farmers will be able to use other areas of their farms to plant vegetables and other cash crops, or perhaps even raise livestock.

Geronimo estimated that, from an eight-hour operation, a farmers’ group using the mini corn mill can produce quality corn grits to feed about a thousand persons—the equivalent of a moderately-sized barangay—for a day.

Complementary technology

The UPLB-based National Corn RDE Network, currently headed by Salazar, is assisting the government in the promotion and commercialization of the mini corn mill. “The corn mill is a UPLB-developed technology that could greatly help increase our use of the different corn varieties we have developed,” he explained.

The recently released white quality protein maize (QPM) variety or IPB Var 6—a high-yielding variety that is rich in lysine and tryptophan—comes in good time. The genetic material for the new variety came from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center or CYMMIT in Mexico and was improved here in UPLB.

Geronimo said this package of technologies will greatly help reduce hunger in the rural areas. “Farmers can plant high-yielding and nutritious corn and process their own produce using the mini corn mill right in their village—a great combination to concretely address food access for Filipinos in the countryside,” he concluded. A report from the Philippine News Agency

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