Nelly Bassily | October 5, 2009
Last April, Nigerians turned to stored beans to get through the dry season. Sadly, some people became sick as a result. Some stored beans had been treated with toxic pesticides. Pesticides can be used to repel insects and protect stored food. But the wrong kind of pesticide can be harmful to people. The tainted beans were responsible for hundreds of reported illnesses. There were even reports of death.
Now it is time for farmers to harvest beans – such as cowpeas – again. And a new, chemical-free method for storing beans is being promoted.
Tahirou Abdoulaye works for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. He recently demonstrated the triple-bagging storage method in Nigeria’s Kano state. Mr. Abdoulaye says this method eliminates the need for storage chemicals.
First, the beans are sealed inside a high-density polyethylene plastic bag. Then, a second high-density polyethylene plastic bag is sealed around the first. Finally, the sealed beans are placed within a woven or nylon sack. The beans are then ready to be stored.
The triple-bagging system does not allow air to penetrate. This keeps away bruchids – small beetles that can destroy stored beans. Mr. Abdoulaye said that they high-density polyethylene plastic bags will be available from agro-dealers across Nigeria.