IITA holds seminar on nonchemical grain storage bags
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.