Eliud Njoroge, a crops researcher at KALRO with the new Hermetic Metal Silo at the 2017 Nairobi International Trade fair. PHOTO/JAPHET RUTO
Farmers can save up to 25% of their cereals from losses by using hermetic metal silos to store their grains. The silo with a capacity of five 50 kg bags is an innovation of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and is suitable for small scale farmers.
Due to unreliable storage options that consist of using discarded sacks and basins, many farmers are forced to sell their crops at harvest time when prices are at their lowest, and pay higher prices later in the year to purchase maize grain back for food. Farmers also often have to purchase chemicals to control pests and rodents attacking their stored cereals.
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Grains constitute the basis for food security for the majority of the population in Kenya and Africa at large and are a central component in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Significant volumes are however lost through post- harvest operations due to attack by pests making farming an expensive venture. It is reported that the region loses 25 to 30% of cereals during market storage according to the Eastern African Grain Council.
Whereas quantitative post-harvest losses result into a direct loss of saleable weight, qualitative losses lead to a loss in market opportunity and grain nutritional value and may pose a serious health hazard of aflatoxicosis if linked to consumption of Aflatoxin-contaminated grain.
According to Eliud Njoroge, a crops researcher at KALRO, no chemicals are required for preservation purposes if farmers adopt this method of storage. Farmers can store grains for a longer period of time meaning more income in and out of season.
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Procedure for storing grains in hermetic metal silos
- Dry and clean grain before loading into silo
- Put silo under a roof and on wooden platform to avoid corrosion and exposure to the sun or rain
- Load grains into the silo from the inlet at the top
- Place a candle on top of the grain and light it. The candle will consume oxygen in the silo and hence make the silo unsuitable for pests.
- While the candle is burning, place the lid and seal the silo using rubber band on both inlet and outlet. The candle will go off after exhausting the oxygen in 2 – 5 minutes.
- Don’t open silo for 20 to 30 days after sealing so that weevils and eggs can die for lack of oxygen.
- When the silo is opened, always seal the outlet after scooping the desired amount of grain.
The silos can be obtained at KALRO at Ksh 12,000 via Eliud Njoroge who can be reached on +254 706 983 021.