RURAL DISTRIBUTION PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN SAFELY PRESERVING GRAIN

March 14th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

“This is the first year I’m not buying chemicals to store my grain,” Baraka Nurie, the mother of three small children, revealed to Jordan Dey, GrainPro® VP for Food Security, during a visit on February in Ethiopia’s Gurage Region.

What gives? A new rural distribution strategy initiated in January 2017 by GrainPro’s Ethiopia distributor, HiTec, will give millions of small farmers access to pesticide-free and safe hermetic storage. Hermetic bags, such as GrainPro’s SuperGrainbag®, help stop infestation and inhibit the growth of aflatoxin-producing molds, while retaining the quality, color, and taste of stored grains for months, even years without using chemicals that can harm consumers.

Farmers in Ethiopia traditionally grow corn, sorghum and teff for their household consumption, keeping four or five bags (100KG) of the grain in their house.  Bugs, particularly weevils, immediately show up, infesting the grain, eating the nutritious core and reducing the contents to a powdery mess.

To combat this problem, farmers, desperate due to the lack of appropriate, affordable and alternative preservation methods during storage, are directly applying chemicals categorized under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants on their grains every couple of months. Some of these chemicals have doubtful origins and are banned internationally from use without proper training because their use can have negative health and environmental effects.

These chemicals kill the weevils, but leave residues that threaten the health of consumers, particularly children, and farm animals. At a financial standpoint, chemical pesticides reduce the market value of their crops. Additionally, the improper use of these chemicals can lead to environmental problems and health concerns for users and their families. Given the downsides of using chemicals, hermetic storage is clearly the safer and more cost-efficient alternative.

HiTec’s strategy involves partnering with governments and local groups to conduct outreach activities that will see highly-trained agricultural extension officers visiting rural communities to train and educate farmers on hermetic storage, and establish a network of local dealers to supply the farmers. One of the dealers, Shafi Agro in Butajira, already sold 439 GrainPro bags since the program started.

The financial incentives of storing are undeniable. In southern Ethiopia, with the harvest just in, the price for a 100 KG bag of corn is currently $19 USD. In five months, as supplies diminish, the market price will increase to $31 per bag, or a 60% gain. The small farmers can recoup the cost of their investment in hermetic bag by waiting 3 to 4 months before they sell their grain.

Despite the obvious benefits, creating the foundation for behavior change among small farmers is a long-term process and requires a long-term commitment. Sharing this effort among governments, donors, non-profits, international organizations and the technology providers is the key to catalyzing behavior change and improving the health, nutritional and financial outcomes for small farmers globally.

And the right time to do this is now.

With increasing pressures to stop the use of dangerous pesticides on dry agricultural commodities, there is a clear desire among farmers for safer alternatives. Baraka Nurie and others in her neighborhood got it right when they decided to stop using chemicals and try out hermetic storage. Aside from the financial potential, they can be sure that their children are eating safe.

The active ingredient in Malatine (pictured) is Endosulfin, a toxic chemical that is being phased out globally.

New Scientific Paper Discusses How to Control Aflatoxin Growth with Safe Post Harvest Practices

February 23rd, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

In human beings, high aflatoxin levels depress the immune system, thereby contributing to many health problems ranging from cancer and susceptibility to HIV, to stunted growth among children. This led governments in Africa to band together to stop the spread of Aflatoxins in the continent. At an October 2016 meeting with the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), Ugandan President, H.E. Yoweri Museveni called for a collective effort among African countries to address aflatoxin challenges.

However, postharvest storage remains the most overlooked stage for effectively preventing aflatoxin growth. In hot, humid climates, long term conventional storage can produce exponential growth of aflatoxins. It shows that restricting the increase in aflatoxin levels during both drying and long-term storage is a major challenge, particularly in hot and humid conditions.

An increasingly popular and inexpensive alternative method for controlling aflatoxin growth during multi-month storage is using flexible, Ultra Hermetic™ storage containers. This storage technology relies on creating a condition such that insect plus microflora respiration, and sometimes respiration of the commodity itself, is greater than residual intake of oxygen through ultra-low permeability container material. For the successful use of Ultra Hermetic storage as well as for other storage methods, crops must be adequately dried, typically to a point below their ―critical moisture level (in equilibrium with 65% relative humidity).

A new technical report on this topic is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Food Research’ April edition with added information from Professor Flavio Meira Borem, world leader in coffee research, post-harvest technology and new packaging materials. Download an advanced copy by following this link. – http://www.grainpro.com/gpi/images/PDF/PU3026PV1016%20JFR-Food_Safety_and_Aflatoxin_Control.pdf

HERMETIC STORAGE PROVIDES VALUE OPPORTUNITY FOR MAIZE IN INDONESIA

February 20th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

JAKARTA, INDONESIA – Indonesia intends to scale up the use of Ultra Hermetic™ technology to solve its storage problems. This was made apparent at a meeting last December 15, 2016 in Jakarta when officials of Indonesia’s Bureau of Logistics (BULOG), a major local food agency, expressed their plan to store 50 percent of their maize in GrainPro® Self-Verifying Cocoons™.

The agency is concerned about their buffer stock of maize for human and animal consumption, which is estimated at 200,000 metric tonnes (MT). The crop is typically stored for six months to a year in warehouses across the country. Despite their strict policies and standards on warehouse storage, the agency continues to encounter problems with insects and fungal contamination.

Another is the rising cost of chicken in Indonesia. According to Eng. Alnor Limbo, GrainPro Customer Support Engineer, chicken prices rose by at least 15 percent during the last year. The price is directly affected by the supply of maize used as feed for poultry and other livestock animals.

Because production is not spread out evenly, the country needs to import to address local demands. As such, their lack of storage facilities result in poor quality maize that can’t be used as animal feed. Unable to meet demands, the price of maize goes up and this creates a chain of events that ultimately correlates to the high price of chicken. Elevating the problem is an estimated 445,000 MT of maize to be produced or imported in 2017. This prompted the agency to explore the use of hermetic technology. Previous trials of Cocoons in Indonesia from 2014 onward with rice were very promising.

The Cocoon is a gastight and watertight outdoor food storage solution with varying sizes that can store up to 1000 MT. Because it can prevent the exchange of air and moisture, it can preserve the quality of grains and seeds without using toxic fumigants. The Cocoon uses an environment-friendly technology that safely preserves dry agricultural commodities for human and animal consumption.

BULOG now uses GrainPro Cocoons for storing locally-produced rice. They currently have 10 units installed at multiple facilities throughout Indonesia. For more information about the Cocoon, visit the GrainPro website at www.grainpro.com.

FOOD SECURITY REMAINS A PRIORITY IN WAR-TORN SOMALIA

February 6th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

GALMUDUG, SOMALIA – Two Ultra Hermetic™ GrainPro® Self-Verifying Cocoons™ are preserving a blend of corn and soya flour in Somalia. The Cocoons are part of a development program that aims to alleviate the growing food problem in the war-torn country.

GrainPro’s Priscilla Mosigisi, Sales Manager, and Alinaitwe Justus, Customer Support Engineer, carried out a training of local staff on December 2, 2016. The training program included the installation of the 100MT and 150MT Cocoons. Logistical issues and exchanges of gunfire between government and rebel troops near the compound caused delays.

The ongoing civil war has an adverse effect on local food production. Despite efforts to improve food security in the country, the situation forces many to rely on food donations from international relief organizations. To preserve the quality of foreign aid, Cocoons are a cost-effective solution that prevents the exchange of air and moisture to safely control pests and inhibit the growth of aflatoxin-producing molds without using any harmful chemicals.

GrainPro is working actively with international organizations and the local community in Somalia to help reduce food losses and prevent aflatoxin poisoning. Its Cocoon™ is well-known among development organizations in the country as a viable solution to storage-related problems. Last year, GrainPro visited the capital city of Mogadishu where the team trained local officials and food producers how to use the SuperGrainbag® and GrainSafe Bag in the framework of a FAO funded project.

INDONESIA CONTINUES TO STEP UP RICE STORAGE WITH HERMETIC COCOONS™

January 24th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

JAKARTA, INDONESIA – The Indonesian Bureau of Logistics (BULOG) increased its storage capacity with the installation of six 150MT GrainPro Cocoons™ on December 2016 in the province of Lampung, and the cities of Yogyarta and Jakarta.

The installation is part of a nationwide initiative by BULOG — a government-owned company that deals in food distribution and price control – designed to increase its rice storage capabilities and further enhance an already efficient warehousing practice. Despite the agency’s stern sanitary procedures and effective handling of rice in its facilities, pests and fungal growth continue to be a problem.

Training also plays a crucial role in the success of this project. Engr. Alnor Limbo, GrainPro Customer Support Engineer, delivered technical seminars to BULOG managers, technical staff and high-ranking officials. The seminar included instructions on correct operation procedures, proper maintenance and addressed the concerns of the technical staff about hermetic storage.

The Cocoon uses an environment-friendly technology to safely preserve a wide variety of dry agricultural commodities for human and animal consumption. It’s an airtight and watertight solution that stops infestation and inhibits fungal contamination without using harmful chemicals.

Since the first Cocoons were tested in 2014, the agency has steadily increased its units to meet the rising demands for quality preservation that reflect their high standards. In total, 10 units are currently installed in BULOG facilities throughout Indonesia. They are also planning to add more in coming years for the storage of other food commodities.

SOLAR BUBBLE DRYER ARRIVES IN EAST AFRICA

January 13th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

NAIROBI, KENYA – A new project in East Africa introduced smallholder farmers to the GrainPro® Solar Bubble Dryer™ (SBD) — a state-of-the-art drying solution that protects commodities against sudden rains while it dries.

The project – Making Value Chains Work for Food and Nutrition Security of Vulnerable Populations in East Africa – aims to reach some five million smallholder farmers across multiple agricultural communities and 50,000 consumers across Uganda and Kenya. As part of the three-year initiative, a unit was installed in September for a local company that manufactures affordable and nutritious snacks. The SBDs will be used to dry beans – a highly nourishing crop aimed at low-income households. Eight more of these dryers were distributed to local farmers in different regions of Uganda and Kenya on November 2016.

A major challenge for smallholders in the area are the intermittent rains that occur during the drying process. The SBD’s top cover absorbs heat from the sun to dry the grains and seeds while providing protection against sudden rains. Ventilators push out moisture to exhausts at the back. The SBD is easy-to-use and can be installed on any flat surface.

Proper drying is a requirement for improved food preservation. Developed by GrainPro with the International Rice Research Institute and the University of Hohenheim (Germany), the SBDs are creating a buzz most notably among women farmers who see it as a tool that could reduce their workload and improve their processes. Together with CIAT, the partners are testing the SBD with farmers and food processors in the region.

KENYA FARMERS SET TO BENEFIT FROM USE OF HERMETIC STORAGE BAGS

December 21st, 2016 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

Hellen Irungu, Farm Concern International (FCI) staff giving a Super Grain Bag (GrainPro Hermetic Bag) to Mr. Willy Bett, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

NAIROBI, KENYA – Farmers were urged to use hermetic storage bags during the National Campaign on Hermetic Storage Technology Road Show. The event, a collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture, USAID’s Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises (KAVES), and the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO), promoted hermetic technology use on November 16, 2016. The GrainPro® SuperGrainbag® (SGB) was one of the five hermetic innovations featured at the event.

The SGB is an Ultra Hermetic™ bag liner with extremely low permeability to air and moisture to stop infestation and inhibit the growth of aflatoxin-producing molds. It can safely preserve the quality of grains and seeds for more than a year without using harmful chemicals. The partners claimed that around three million bags could be saved from going to waste once farmers adopt the technology.

In 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that about 30 percent of all food produced in Kenya goes to waste due to poor post harvest handling. “Reduction of post-harvest loss is an important strategy to ensure food and nutritional security and improve farmers’ incomes in a sustainable manner,” said Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture.

Besides preservation, hermetic bags can also help inhibit the growth of aflatoxins which can lead to debilitating diseases when consumed in large quantities, thus benefiting both farmers and consumers. To encourage its wide use, the partners are asking the Kenyan government to remove the 16 percent VAT charged on hermetic bags.

http://www.hivisasa.com/national/agriculture/182125

http://www.farmconcern.org/fci-blog/404-usaid-east-africa-and-ministry-of-agric-launches-hermetic-storage-tech-in-kenya.html

COFFEE SEED PRODUCER FIGHTS OFF COFFEE PESTS WITHOUT USING PESTICIDES

December 9th, 2016 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

MATAGALPA, NICARAGUA – A trial in October found that the GrainPro® SuperGrainbag® (SGB) Premium RT can stop insects without adverse effects on coffee seed germination. This came after the trial commissioned by a national coffee seed producer provided positive results against Coffee Borer Beetles (Hypothenemus hampei).

During the trial, two SuperGrainbags – one bag was flushed with carbon dioxide and the other was used without flushing – were tested against a conventional polypropylene bag that was used as a control. Andrés Cortés, GrainPro Regional Manager for Central America, reported that in both SuperGrainbags the pests were fully exterminated without any adverse effects to the seed germination rate.

In Nicaragua, coffee seeds are normally kept in polypropylene bags that are stored inside cold rooms. Often, the infestation present in the stored seeds, builds adaptive responses that allows it to thrive once temperature increases. Since trade laws require that coffee should not have traces of chemical fumigants, producers are challenged to find innovative ways to control infestation.

GrainPro’s SGB Premium RT is a popular multi-layered liner for coffee and other prime agricultural commodities. It is relied upon by many coffee producers and traders for its low permeability to air and moisture, factors that contribute to the development of molds and infestation among stored commodities. By controlling a low moisture content and low oxygen atmosphere using the SGB liners, farmers can safely preserve coffee beans and seeds free from insects such the Coffee Borer Beetles without using harmful chemicals.

For more information about the SuperGrainbag Premium RT and other GrainPro products, log on to www.grainpro.com.

COFFEE FARMERS CALL FOR TOUGHER LAWS AGAINST IMPROPER DRYING METHODS

December 9th, 2016 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

coffee_festival_2015

KAMPALA, UGANDA – Ugandan coffee farmers called for tougher laws and punitive measures against improper drying methods and poor crop handling at the 2nd Uganda Coffee Festival on November 4, 2016 according to a Bloomberg Markets story.

The National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE), the nation’s largest coffee farmer representative group, believes that poor post-harvest practices are contributing to the country’s declining reputation in the global coffee trade. The group is asking lawmakers to enact laws that discourage improper drying methods and the practice of picking immature beans among others.

The Uganda Coffee Development Authority reported that coffee sector earnings are down to $327 million this year compared to $411 million last year a midst the low shipment volumes and weak global prices for the third year in a row. Despite the decline in revenues and exports, coffee is still Uganda’s top exported commodity and remains the second biggest coffee exporter in Africa.

Such laws should encourage producers to improve their existing practices, explore new post-harvest techniques, and create opportunities for innovation. Being able to dry coffee properly to the correct moisture content can help inhibit the growth of aflatoxins during storage. Modern coffee drying solutions such as the Solar Bubble Dryer (SBD) are a much better choice over traditional methods.

The SBD is a sun drying solution that was designed to dry coffee and other agricultural commodities at a more consistent drying rate, while providing protection against rewetting in case of sudden rains. Combined with patio drying, the SBD can gradually lower the moisture content of coffee beans to the equilibrium moisture content to safely preserve flavor and aromatic qualities.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-07/uganda-farmers-group-demands-coffee-law-to-boost-quality-income

At 2nd Uganda National Coffee Festival, Stakeholders Push for Laws to Protect Quality

FARMERS ADOPT CHEMICAL-FREE STORAGE SOLUTIONS IN TANZANIA

November 22nd, 2016 by GrainProMarketing No comments »
A Cocoon being installed in Tanzania in 2015.

A Cocoon being installed in Tanzania in 2015.

Nairobi, Kenya – Food security groups in Africa called for innovative cost-reduction schemes and make postharvest storage solutions more affordable for smallholder farmers. The partners lobbied for government levied tax exemptions and subsidized prices on hermetic storage solutions such as the GrainPro® Cocoons™ during the African Green Revolution Forum on September 9.

Betty Kibaara, Rockefeller Foundation Associate Director, told reporters that farmers are abandoning the application of harmful chemical treatments on stored crops. “Demonstration projects have contributed immensely in raising the awareness of farmers about existing technologies and are now adopting these solutions to reduce food losses,” she added.

In 2014, the Alliance for A Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) tested Cocoons in Tanzania and found it to be very effective against pests and dangerous aflatoxins. Waiving the 18 per cent value added tax and including the Cocoon in a lineup of postharvest solutions that receive subsidized pricing from government would accelerate and widen adoptions.

Betty Kibaara, Rockefeller Foundation Associate Director, supports schemes to make hermetic solutions more affordable to farmers in Africa. (Photo by Futures Agriculture)

Betty Kibaara, Rockefeller Foundation Associate Director, supports schemes to make hermetic solutions more affordable to farmers in Africa. (Photo by Futures Agriculture)