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HomeFront PageBreaking NewsMonolithic storage facility in Agusan town risks to become white elephant

Monolithic storage facility in Agusan town risks to become white elephant

By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur— The P20-million monolithic dome cold storage facility, constructed by the Department of Agriculture in March 2022, faces the risk of becoming a white elephant project unless the agency introduces innovations to ensure optimal interior temperature regulation.

Mayor Grace Carmel Paredes-Bravo said that the local government allocated P1 million to power the facility. However, the cooling equipment could only lower its temperature to 15 degrees Celsius, far from the intended 2 degrees required to preserve the shelf life of vegetables and fruits stored in the facility for a month in August of the previous year.

The building contractor lacked the expertise to operate the cooling equipment, prompting the local government to conduct a month-long test. The results indicated that some vegetables, stored at 15 degrees Celsius, could only last for days instead of the projected one-month preservation period.

Bravo said that a Technical Working Group (TWG), comprised of farmers, technicians from the municipal agriculture office, and representatives from other local agencies, was formed to monitor the dome’s operation.

According to their findings, okra only lasted four days before starting to rot, bananas wrapped in cellophane ripened to yellow after a month but remained green if unwrapped, wrapped eggplants remained fresh after a month, while squash and watermelon stored at room temperature stayed fresh.

The cold storage’s failure to serve its purpose led the mayor to halt operations, especially upon discovering the costly energy consumption of P90,000 per month.

Before the trial run, the TWG investigated other monolithic domes in different areas of the country and found that none had become functional.

DA Caraga Regional Director Ricardo Oñate assured that corrective measures would be implemented through innovations to ensure the facility’s proper functioning.

The mayor said that operations would resume once the facility becomes economically viable.

The dome, resembling a large refrigerator, aims to preserve perishable goods like vegetables and fruits by slowing down the deterioration process, extending their shelf life for several weeks and reducing losses.

Former mayor Solomon Rufila, who received the dome project in March 2022, emphasized the facility’s utility to local farmers, allowing them to store products during periods of low buying prices and wait for more advantageous market conditions.

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