For the longest time in the history of grain production, we have experimented with different grain storage bags and methods to find the solutions that preserve our grains the longest.
Globally, one of the worst culprits responsible for post-harvest losses in grains during storage is insect pests. Insects damage grains in many ways. They directly feed on grains which reduces weight, nutritional value and market value, essentially causing the profits of farmers to waste away.
The presence of insect parts and faecal matter results in mould and odours that lead to the contamination and deterioration of grains. Past a certain level, the activities of insects render grains unsafe for both human and animal consumption.
Additionally, factors such as high moisture content lead to mould growth which may destroy grains while in storage.
Different Storage Methods
In Ghana and many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, grains are usually stored in grain storage bags. In this post, we will consider three main types of bags that are used to store grains and compare their effectiveness against insects and other factors that cause post-harvest losses
The jute bag has been one of the oldest ways of storing grains and has been used to store grains for several centuries. Its material is made from the bark of the jute plant which makes it biodegradable and safe for the environment. Jute bags are usually inexpensive and readily available for purchase.
However, jute is susceptible to elements such as water and can quickly become weak when it comes into contact with water. Additionally, its porous and fibrous nature allows for air, moisture, microorganisms and grain-eating insects such as weevils to easily come into contact with its contents.
This makes it unsuitable for long-term storage.
Polypropylene (PP) Bags
Polypropylene bags are also one of the most popular methods of storing grains in sub-saharan Africa. PP bags are made from woven strips of polypropylene. PP bags have a lot of advantages. They are light, easy to use, very affordable, easily accessible and come in different sizes.
PP bags are however not very durable and are susceptible to insect pests, rodents and water. They are great for cheap, short term storage but do not work great as a long term grain storage solution.
Hermetic Storage Bags
Hermetic storage bags have become an increasingly popular bag among grain storage bags. While not as popular as PP bags or jute bags, hermetic bags are gaining momentum as one of the safest ways to store grains in sub-saharan Africa.
Hermetic bags work by sealing the stored grain from the outside atmosphere. This means that once grains are sealed in a hermetic bag, they are airtight. As a result, moisture and oxygen cannot enter into the bag from the outside air
As insects already present inside the grain continue to respire, carbon dioxide levels increase and oxygen levels decrease. At low oxygen levels, all insect activity ceases and they cannot continue to attack grains.
Some hermetic bags come with an outer layer which is usually a PP bag to protect the hermetic liner from damage. Some of the most popular hermetic bags available on the market include PICS bags, GrainPro Bags and ZeroFly Hermetic BagHermetic bags have several advantages over other types of bags. They include being able to protect grains from insects and moisture which makes them ideal for long term storage. They are durable, easy to use and ensure that grains maintain their quality even after a year of storage. They can also be reused several times over, so long as the hermetic layer is not damaged.
The main drawback of hermetic bags are that they are generally more expensive than types of bags, which may be prohibitive for some people. Additionally, the hermetic capabilities may be damaged if the bag is punctured.
While hermetic bags may be expensive to purchase upfront, the benefits of preserving your grains far outweigh the initial costs.
At Sesi Technologies, we distribute ZeroFly hermetic bags in Ghana. ZeroFly bags have several advantages over even other types of hermetic bags.
Aside from the inner hermetic layer, ZeroFly bags also come with an insecticide-impregnated outer layer which kills any insects trying to attack grains from the outside while protecting the inner layer from damage and the risk of puncture.
For aggregators, feed producers and farmers looking to protect their harvest and profits from losses, the ZeroFly Hermetic bag is an excellent choice for long term storage of any grain commodity.