How to store maize grains for long without toxic preservatives.

Hermetic Cocoon; Source Grainpro

Poorly stored food is vulnerable to moisture and storage pests such as weevils, grain borers and rodents.  

How can farmers and traders store their dry cereals like maize or beans cheaply and guarantee its safety? In this article, we will focus on three solutions for storing grains for long without preservatives. You can use hermetic bags, air tight containers or mini silos.

Hermetic storage bags

Use of hermetic storage bags is an emerging trends in food waste management. It can preserve dried maize, beans, cowpeas, green grams, sorghum, millet and other cereals without the use of insecticides. This cheap technology is ideal for farmers and traders in Kenya who produce or purchase and store maize for later use in the season.

The bag has two layers for better resistance against moisture, air and pests.    Pack your grains into the innermost air-tight plastic bag. Tie it tight with an unbreakable string or wire to make it air or moisture proof. The sealed bag can reduce oxygen levels from 21% to 5%. Lack of oxygen can reduce live insects like weevils to less than 1 insect/kg of grain. It also and creates unfavorable conditions for pest multiplication.

Where to buy hermetic bags in Kenya

Hermetic storage bags available in Kenya

You can buy hermetic bags from local shops or import them by ordering online.

The following brands are available for sale in all leading Kenya towns like Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret.

  • Purdue Improved crop storage (PICS),
  • Grain Pro
  • Super Grain
  • Zero fly
  • Agro Z
  • Elite bag

Consumers can get the Kraft Paper Flat Base Hermetic Bag- Zipper Pouches for packing powder like flour and other grains. If you prefer something you can re-use, go for the multifunctional Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags, they are leak proof, extra thick Hermetic Reusable Bags.

Agcenture does not approve any brand superior to others. The efficiency of the bag will depend on you following the supplier instructions.

 Pros of using hermetic technology

  • Store grains for up to 24 months (2 years) while keeping its qualities such as flavor and moisture loss.
  • The bags are reusable.
  • Eliminates need for pesticides or fumigants to treat the stored rice, corn, beans, paddy, milled rice, and other cereal crops. making it fit human consumption.
  • Cheaper compared to metallic or plastic silos. The price of a 50-100 kg hermetic bag retails at around Ksh 200 in Kenya.
  • It increases your farming income as you You can sell grains when prices are high during the shortage season.
  • Seed viability is greatly extended with hermetic storage.

Mini silos

Mini silos are air tight storage canisters. They are ideal for storing cereals for domestic use. They are made of plastic, wood, glass or stainless steel. They are available in different capacities like 1500kg, 1200kg, 1000kg, 700kg, 500kg, 350 kg, 250 kg and 100 kg. You can buy one that suits your needs.

They can keep your cereals safe from leaking roofs, a rodent’s invasion and torn packaging bags. In this article we look at steel and plastic ones.

Air tight steel Canisters

The metallic ones are made of galvanized steel sheet, 0.5 mm thick and soldered with tin to be purely hermetic. A silo has two openings; on top to fill the grain and an outlet on the side. The silos’ openings are closed with a lid which has rubber band seals.

 Always place the silos in a protected area from rain and sun in a granary, storage room or a room inside the house.

Do not place them directly on the floor but place it on a wooden platform at least 15 cm above the ground level. 

Pros of using metallic mini-silos.

  • Long lifespan of up to 20 years.
  • They have variety and are affordable to various people as it comes in different capacities
  • You can store grains for over one (1) year ensuring food availability throughout the year.
  • Reduces your food losses by up to 15% rate and you can enjoy a stored market gain of around 50%.
  • It increases your farming income as you can store and sell products when prices are high during the lean season.

Store shelled, clean and sun-dried grains. Treat the grains with a fumigant before putting it in the silo. You should check the grain condition from time to time.

Airtight Grain containers

Are appropriate for consumers at home for storing grains (rice, grams, and beans), flour and other dry food components at home.

They cut down on food loss and wastage by keeping it dry and safe. Plastic containers are available in various shapes, makes and sizes.

Containers are a great addition in your food storage, deco and kitchen arrangement.  Some are transparent, allowing you to check your food’s condition without opening. You can get them in sets of 3, 4, 6 or 10 containers.

Where to buy the best airtight grain containers

You can find airtight food containers for sale in your local stores. If you cannot find a desirable make or size there, look for one in a leading online store like Amazon or eBay.

Hermetic Cocoons

These are ideal for bulk grain handlers like maize wholesalers. They can hold 5 to 300 metric tons of produce. You will use them together with gunny bags or the common sacks. The one shown above, consists of two plastic halves. They are joined by an air-tight zipper after the cocoon is loaded with sacks of the commodity to be stored.

Cocoons work like hermetic bags by limiting aeration. Besides, they can also keep grains safe from floods if water does not reach the zipper line.

How to dry your Maize grains adequately before storage

Moisture causes cereals and pulses like maize and beans to decay, get decolorized or contaminated by the deadly poison like aflatoxin .  It can happen if it was poorly dried before storage or exposed while on the farm, during transit or storage.

Before storing grains in a hermetic bag, metallic silos or airtight containers ensure you have achieved the right moisture content of 12 to 14 percent for most grains.

Grains can be hygienically sun-dried for around 3 days. You can also use a commercial dryer (heater air, in store drying or grain cooling) either on-farm or offsite. While sun drying, ensure you dry seeds on top of waterproof canvases.

Do not mix grains maintained at different MCs to avoid seed cracking. To check on the grain’s moisture content (MC). Use a handheld grain moisture or digital testers to avoid over drying and decrease your yield weight.

Samuel K

Samuel is the founder and senior agribusiness development consultant at Agcenture. He can be reached at skibicho@agcenture.com

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4 Responses

  1. February 8, 2021

    […] on their prices, availability or use. Some of the cheap ones for small scale maize farmers are; Hermetic bags and airtight containers. Medium traders can buy freezers and chillers for perishable products or mini silos for […]

  2. March 9, 2021

    […] an acre. It assumes you will store maize and only sell later when prices have increased. The use of hermetic-bags is a cheap method of storing maize for a long time without using toxic […]

  3. March 18, 2021

    […] use of hermetic-bags is the cheapest method to reduce post-harvest maize losses. The bags are moisture, pest and […]

  4. April 10, 2021

    […] Storage: buy airtight and moisture-proof hermetic bags and small silos to store grains dry and free of storage pests. Besides, lower costs of operation by […]

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