Postharvest loss prevention and reduction involves a number of interventions. Technology is a useful tool, though by no means the only one. Different technologies are more applicable in different parts of the world. Here is a sampling of some of the postharvest loss technologies used by ADMI and our partners.
The most common traditional drying method among smallholder farmers in many parts of the world is sun drying. Sun drying typically takes place in fields, on large, flat surfaces – such on mats, pavement, or roofs – or in a crib. This cheap, labor intensive drying process is highly weather dependent and has a limited capacity. Grain exposed to the elements must be monitored and stirred.
In January 2016, RAU unveiled their STR dryer prototype – an adaptation based on a study done by Nong-Lam University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Local materials have been used to fabricate the dryer, minimizing cost and supporting the local economy.
Hermetic Storage Bags
Hermetic bags are an airtight, pesticide-free method to protect grains from mold growth and pest infestation during storage. In developing countries, a majority smallholder farmers use jute bags – or the equivalent – to store their commodities, which are prone to insect infestation and mold growth. Hermetic storage technologies provide an eco-friendly, reusable solution that can serve as a bag lining the inside of a farmer’s traditional storage method. Most hermetic storage bags are made of polyethylene, which creates a low-oxygen environment that prevents moisture absorption. As grains, insects, and molds naturally breathe inside the bag, most of the oxygen is converted into carbon dioxide – a process that eliminates pests and inhibits mold growth, which optimizes quality commodity preservation.
Smallholder farmers generally sell their products immediately after harvest because they need to provide for their families or lack proper storage conditions. Hermetic bags provide practical storage conditions that can increase seed viability by 6-12 months, according to studies done by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Farmers who use these technologies will be capable of storing their grain longer, allowing them to sell their commodity in off-peak seasons at better market rates.
Two hermetic storage technologies that are being used in the ADMI Village initiative are GrainPro SuperGrainBags (SGBTM) and Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags.
GrainPro SuperGrainBags (SGBTM) are a multilayer polyethylene bag liner that can either be sealed by a zip-lock or tied off by cable ties or equivalent – i.e. rubber bands, rope, or a knot. Once the SGBTM is filled with grain and properly sealed, it is placed inside a jute bag. The jute bag is then sewn up and ready for storage.
Purdue Improved Crop Storage Bags (PICS)
After receiving a new five-year project, the third phase of the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS3) project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is underway. The PICS3 project aims to improve market access and food security among smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. PICS3 builds on the successes of the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS1) and the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS2) projects. Find out more details on the PICS website.
USDA EMC Meter 4.0
The Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) Meter 4.0 measures the moisture content of several agricultural commodities including settings for hard and soft wheat, maize, soybeans, paddy, sorghum, and chickpeas. The probe containing the sensor is about 30 inches (76 cm) long allowing for measurements at various grain depths while in storage.