Nelly Bassily | October 4, 2010
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, CIMMYT, is located in Mexico. Based on years of experience in Central America, CIMMYT has developed a storage technology that is appropriate for grain storage in developing countries. Such simple technologies can be transferred to different countries and continents. So far, the metal grain storage silos are proving popular in Kenya and Malawi, where CIMMYT has been working with local partners. The main challenges appear to be ensuring the quality and the affordability of the silo. Both challenges are being addressed by training local artisans.
Farmers can lose between a third and a half of their harvest while it is in storage. Consequently, many organizations work on this issue. This website estimates post-harvest losses in Africa: http://www.phlosses.net/
More information from CIMMYT about the project can be found at:
http://www.cimmyt.org/en/about-us/media-resources/newsletter/717-metal-silos-lock-out-maize-pests-in-africa, and http://www.postharvest.ch/en/Home/Knowledge_Network/Ongoing_POSTCOSECHA_Programs/Eastern_and_Southern_Africa.
NTV Kenya recently produced a short video report about the metal silos. It can be viewed here: http://www.ntv.co.ke/News/Food%20security:%20Preserving%20grains%20in%20metalic%20silos%20/-/471778/947114/-/e8n5gqz/-/index.html.
Farm Radio International has produced a number of scripts over the years on crop storage. Topics include the storage of different crops, traditional and new storage methods, and various ways of repelling insects. You can browse the range of scripts at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/food.asp.
A few weeks ago, Farm Radio Weekly reported on farmers in Mozambique who are building these metal silos, but with local materials:
From Nigeria, another storage method for beans is described in this news story: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/10/05/2-nigeria-triple-bagging-an-alternative-to-%E2%80%98killer-beans%E2%80%99-daily-trust/.
Storing crops and avoiding post-harvest losses are always important to farmers. Farmers are often keen to discuss methods that have worked and share ideas. You could prepare a program on how farmers avoid losses in storage. Interview farmers, talking to both men and women, and find out what methods they use, how they store different crops, what pest treatments they use, and what they estimate their losses to be. You could speak to community groups who store grain communally, or have invested in improved storage methods such as metal silos.