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The Use of Hermetic Bags for on Farm Storage of Grains and Pulses Against Insect Pests

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Post-harvest losses of grains and pulses are extensive and a major threat to food security in East, central and southern Africa. According to AGRA (2013) the major factors that influence losses are: attacks on grain by insects, mycotoxin contamination, rodents and birds. The most affected crops include maize, dried cassava, rice, sorghum, millet and pulses. This problem is particularly acute in the East African region, where on-farm storage solutions are either not widely available or are poorly adapted to local needs, leading to post harvest losses of up to 30%. Consumers of infested and contaminated grains are also exposed to aflatoxin posing a serious health risk. Current storage practices (e.g. woven polypropylene or jute bags, maize cribs) are not at all effective against the problem posed by insects and rodents for diverse reasons. Existing hermetic solutions have notable shortcomings, either in terms of expense (plastic drums, metal silos, cocoons) or effectiveness (existing hermatic bags). Hermetic storage of grain uses sealable and airtight containers such as cocoons, metal silos and plastic drums to prevent grain-insect pest contact and to suffocate insects already in the container. For most farmers, however, these technologies are somewhat expensive with an acquisition price usually starting at US$ 3 and not suited to their local conditions. With the ineffectiveness and/or unaffordability of current storage practices, especially when it comes to stubborn pests such as the larger grain borer (LGB Prostephanus truncatus) which remains the most serious pest of maize in many parts of Africa, there is clearly a need for better solutions. This article addresses this problem.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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