(Bonus: At the end of this post, we will give you a free cheat sheet which tells you the recommended moisture content for different crops before storage so be sure to read to the end)
Maize is one of the major staple foods in Ghana. In 2019, 2 million metric tonnes of maize was produced in Ghana. Of all the maize produced, about 85% is consumed while the remaining is used as animal feed.
There are many stakeholders that work along the maize supply and value chain, all of whom play an important role in getting maize to end-users. They include farmers, input suppliers, aggregators, warehouses operators, retailers, feed producers and consumers.
Maize and Post-harvest Losses
It is estimated that about 30% of grain cultivated is lost after harvest. To reduce post-harvest losses and ensure the maize lasts long after harvest, it is important for it to be stored properly. However, many challenges make it difficult to store grain for a long period of time without spoilage.
Some of these challenges include mould growth, insect infestation and pest attacks which not only result in economic losses for everyone involved but also pose a health risk for consumers.
If you are a farmer, feed producer, aggregator or warehouse operator, it is important to store your grains right to ensure that they don’t become mouldy or infested with insects.
Two ways you can reduce post-harvest losses in grains this season
- Ensure that you are storing maize at the right moisture content.
- Use hermetic bags to store your maize
Measuring The Moisture Content In your Maize
Maize is normally harvested at a moisture content of around 18% – 25% but it must be dried to 13% moisture content or below to be suitable for long term storage. High moisture content in maize encourages the activity of insects and the growth of aflatoxins that make the grain grow mouldy and can also cause cancer.
Storing your maize at the right moisture content reduces the activity of mould and insect infestation in the grain. However, maize with too low moisture content will also begin to crack and will lose too much weight, which will result in economic losses. So it is important to store at the right moisture level.
Before you store your maize, it is important to measure the moisture content. The best way to determine whether your maize is dry enough for storage is to use a grain moisture meter such as our GrainMate Grain Moisture Meter.
Grain Moisture Meters can tell you the right moisture content in your maize. With this information, you can know whether your maize is dry enough for storage or has to be dried some more. After you have dried your maize to 13% moisture content, you can then store safely.
Knowing the moisture content in your maize can also let you know which bags to sell first and which you should store for longer.
We’re currently running a promotion for our GrainMate Moisture Meter which ends soon. Click here to send us a message directly on WhatApp for more inquiries.
Storing Your Grains In Hermetic Bags
Maize, like other grains, is hygroscopic. This means that it can absorb moisture from the environment if it is exposed to air with high relative humidity. If you store your grains in an environment with high humidity, the moisture content in your grains will increase after some time and your grains can grow mouldy.
One of the best ways to ensure that your maize remains at a constant moisture content throughout storage is to store in hermetic bags. Unlike regular jute bags or polypropylene bags used to store maize, hermetic bags usually contain an inner rubber lining in which grains are placed and sealed so that they are airtight.
This stops oxygen and moisture movement between the outside atmosphere and the stored maize. This means any insects trapped within the bag will die after some time from lack of oxygen.
The PICS bag and the ZeroFly Hermetic Storage Bag are two of the most popular hermetic storage bags available. Both bags have an inner lining that prevents air and water from entering or leaving the bag, ensuring that your maize maintains the same moisture content throughout storage.
The ZeroFly Hermetic bag has an insecticide incorporated in the outer bag which kills insects trying to penetrate the grain from the outside.
If you use a grain moisture meter to ensure that your maize is well dried and you store them in hermetic bags, you can be assured that your grains will last a long time without getting infested by insects or growing mouldy.
As a bonus, you can download our free moisture content cheat sheet which tells you the recommended moisture content for different crops before storage.
What do you currently do to reduce losses? Let us know in the comments section below.