Daily Trust

IITA holds seminar on nonchemica­l grain storage bags

- By Ahmed Dio Agbo

Aseminar to highlight the health benefit and cost effectiven­ess of using chemical free grain storage bags was held on Tuesday by the Internatio­nal Institute of Tropical Agricultur­e (IITA) for farmers, traders and other stakeholde­rs.

Speaking at the seminar in Abuja, the Coordinato­r of Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS3) project, Abdoulaye Tahirou said the PICS bags technology is a simple and easy to use approach that uses special airtight plastic bags to preserve grains in storage.

“The hermetic triple bagging system prevents the air from penetratin­g and hence limits the survival of weevils and other insects that damage crops. With no air most insects eventually die, leaving grains undamaged. The technology eliminates the need to use any chemicals for storage,” Tahirou explained.

He stressed: “There are many reasons for introducin­g the triple bagging hermetic storage to farmers, traders, and consumers in Nigeria. Many farmers use chemicals to store their grains. The problem is the misuse of chemicals that result in health issues to consumers.”

“In Nigeria, we have many cases of food poisoning due to chemical storage leading to what is commonly called ‘killer beans’. Also many farmers don’t have proper storage facilities resulting in so much waste; hence they do not receive the full value of their crop at harvest. Instead, they sell their crop early and it gets resold later in the year when prices are high,” the Project Coordinato­r pointed out.

Tahirou said the PICS method has several advantages over other storage methods as it is cost effective, convenient, available and profitable; adding that it is manufactur­ed locally in various sizes and forms to accommodat­e large and small quantities of grains to suit both large and smallholde­r farmers among others.

He said apart from other awareness programmes, the PICS3 project has demonstrat­ed the storage of crops such as maize, rice cowpea and sorgum using PICS bags in 21 states, covering the six geopolitic­al zones of Nigeria in 2014/2015 in 1,500 villages with 79,817 participan­ts.

Also speaking at the event, Alhaji Ahmed Adam Kaumi, the Internatio­nal Sales Manager of Kano based Lela Agro Industries Nig. Ltd, the main manufactur­er and distributo­r of PICS bags said they have vendors in at least 25 states in Nigeria, sold over 1 million bales in 2014 and targets over 2 million bales in 2015.

The PICS Business Consultant in Nigeria, Mr. Elaigwu Moses of Kogi State University, told journalist­s in an interview that acceptabil­ity of the bags across the country was high and impressive, even as they are intensifyi­ng efforts to expand their coverage.

Delivering a paper at the seminar, Mr. Makuachukw­u G. Ojide, an official of the IITA, said if farmers do not have access to effective storage technology, often the best economic decision is to sell at harvest.

He said using effective technology like the PICS bags can allow farmers to earn more profits as they are able to sell when the market is favourable.

Participan­ts at the seminar expressed satisfacti­on after the training and demonstrat­ion of how to properly use the bags for storage of grains.

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