NEW TECHNOLOGY TO RESCUE ZIMBABWE AGAINST AFLATOXINS

December 22nd, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe – Selina Moyo, a smallholder farmer and mother of three, wants only the best for her children. Whenever maize turned moldy, she would immediately throw them out as forage for chicken and cattle.

Selina would not serve moldy grains to her family because she does not want them to be exposed to aflatoxin, which is linked to nutrient deficiency, liver cancer and weakening of the immune system. However, she is oblivious to the fact that aflatoxins can also be transferred to humans through animal products such as meat, eggs and milk.

There is a general lack of awareness among many food-producing communities in Zimbabwe about the direct and indirect health threats posed by aflatoxins to humans and animals. Fortunately, partnerships between the government, development organizations, research institutions and the private sector are forged to develop awareness towards hermetic storage solutions that will aid in eradicating aflatoxins.

GrainPro, through its distributor, Farm and City, supplied multi-layered and hermetic SuperGrainbag® Premium (SGB Premium) bags (known locally as GrainPro bags) to 260 smallholder farmers – among them is Selina. Through the Cultivate Africa’s Future program,  end users will have to opportunity to realize the effectiveness of hermetic storage in controlling aflatoxin contamination in maize as compared with other grain storage alternatives.

The program was a joint initiative between Action Contre la Faim, University of Zimbabwe, International Rescue Committee and Ministry of Agriculture, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Recent studies in Africa found that hermetic storage bags are better than conventional storage practices at inhibiting growth of aflatoxin-producing molds. These studies concluded that the SGB® Premium was not only effective in reducing postharvest losses but can also enhance food safety by minimizing human and livestock exposure to aflatoxin contaminated commodities.

It is estimated that farmers lose 25 to 30 percent of their total yield for the season because of poor postharvest practices – posing a significantly negative impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. Especially to those who live in drought prone areas with high crop failure.

Experts agreed that the use of hermetic bags could reduce grain losses by up to 25 percent. Hermetic bags protect durable agricultural commodities against infestation and fungal contamination without the use of chemicals. But most importantly, it prevents the transfer of aflatoxin between animals and human.

An affordable solution for smallholder farmers as bags can be used for up to three seasons under recommended practice. It saves farmers from buying pesticides, which are becoming unpopular due to the limited efficacy and the increasing consumer demand for pesticide-free food products.

ROASTED COFFEE SHIPS OUT IN SMALL HERMETIC BAGS

December 15th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

EGS Divisiòn Veterinaria y Agrícola, GrainPro’s distributor in Guatemala, found an Ultra-Hermetic way to ship one-pound roasted Guatemalan coffee to their customers.

The EGS team uses the patented GrainPro SuperGrainbag® (SGB®) Sample 1 (as seen in the photo). Each bag is filled with one pound of rare Guatemalan Maragogipe beans from San Jose Buenavista Farm according to Edgar Grisola Solano, President of EGS. At least 400 bags were sent to Miami, Florida and another 300 bags to Saudi Arabia.

The SGB® Sample 1 is a resealable bag originally designed for green coffee samples. It protects coffee beans within an air and watertight enclosure to lock in the freshness. Customers can see through the transparent Multilayer PE material of the SGB® Sample 1 the quality of both fresh and roasted coffee beans.

“Our customers are extremely pleased because it shows how much we care for their investments,” says Solano. This new packaging scheme is a game-changer in the industry — living up to the goal of ensuring the presence of Ultra-Hermetic packaging solutions from farms to tables. “It’s the guaranteed way to protect the freshness of roasted coffee for much longer periods.”

A REVOLUTION IN PACKING SPECIALTY COFFEE

December 11th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

Despite being the go-to and traditional packaging material used in the specialty coffee industry, it is also known that jute bags are inadequate when it comes to preserving the quality and aroma of fresh and roasted coffee beans. Coffee stored unprotected in jute bags loses its freshness in only a couple of days, the flavor of old jute will begin to cling onto the coffee which roasters describe as stale and moldy.

To prevent this, coffee traders are lining their jute bags with GrainPro SuperGrainbags (SGB). Unfortunately, once the bags leave the warehouse, traders have very little control on how they are handled. Hooks, triers and forklifts can easily damage both the jute bags and the SGBs inside it. When damaged, SGBs can lose its ability to preserve the quality of the beans.

Well, not anymore.

Traders such as the Genuine Origin Coffee Project are now switching to a more innovative method of packing. 15kg SGBs protect coffee in boxes – an alternative to jute bags, boxes are lined with SGBs. Boxes offer a more effective and efficient way to pack, ship and deliver fresh, single-origin green coffee straight to customers’ doors. Boxes are also easier to stack during transport and storage. Finally, boxes can be shipped via courier services like FedEx and UPS.

Besides the superb quality of the coffee, roaster also appreciate boxed coffee’s logistical convenience. It is easier to store and to keep track within the roasting floor. With the protection of the SGB, the coffee can be stored for longer periods of up to a year.

It’s faster, traceable and more secured.

To better accommodate specialty roasters, GrainPro just launched a new SGB with a 15kg capacity that fits perfectly in smaller boxes. This new liner bag is perfect for small coffee roasters who do small-batch roasting. With the 65kg SGB, roasters would be drawing about four to six times per bag before moving on to a new bag – losing the quality in the process.  Made from high-strength polyethylene with a barrier layer, this patented bag hermetically protects the beans against pests, moisture, molds and odors (often associated with jute bags). It provides the same quality preservation the SGB is known for, made smaller.

For more information about this new solution, visit the SGB Premium-15RZ product page.

STORAGE CAN HELP AFRICA AGAINST THE NEXT EL NIŇO

December 1st, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

It was not long ago when Africa was hit by El Niño. In 2015, the event caused the worst drought in decades. It led to failed harvests and ultimately, a massive food security issue. This is an event that continues to affect an estimated 10.2 million people.

As Africa slowly recovers, another El Niño event is projected to occur within the year. With millions already suffering from hunger and malnutrition, another drought this soon will be catastrophic with wide reaching social, environmental and political consequences.

El Niño is an integration of various environmental factors that together caused widespread and extreme changes in climate patterns. This led to stronger hurricanes in Asia and famine-causing droughts in Africa. Both are disastrous to agriculture and food production.

Since El Niño will become a recurring event in Africa, it is important that governments and leaders address the issue of food security  and begin working together to and strengthen the continent’s food supply in preparation for the next occurrence

Africa needs to seize new opportunities that will help smallholder farmers gain access to improved technologies if it wishes to curb the effects of El Niño. Hence, getting access to technologies that will increase harvests such as modern fertilizers, high-yielding crop seeds and machines that will speed up planting and harvesting.

Mechanization may improve production and increase outputs, but it could also lead to massive food loss and waste. The industrialization of agriculture requires facilities to properly store and preserve food – solutions that should be made accessible to farmers and food producers.

INVESTING IN STORAGE

There is always room to apply a sustainable and inclusive value chain approach to improve the performance of the farm-to-market production chain. Food producers, too, need to realize that increasing harvests will not completely solve food insufficiency. Preservation is as equally important to ensure that food losses are prevented and more of it is available anytime it is needed.

Regrettably, in developing countries, investing in the storage of food crops is a costly prospect. Large refrigerated metal silos are expensive to build and operate continuously. Enormous amount of electricity is needed to run such an operation.

Since there is a market for infested and poor-quality staple grains, farmers and millers continue to rely on traditional granaries and bags that inadequately prevent insects and fungal contaminants. These storage products provide little to no protection against environmental threats.

Then, there are case that are even worse.

In 2011, the state of Punjab in Northern India recorded a massive bumper harvest of wheat. However, storage was insufficient. Hundreds and thousands of bags of wheat were left in godowns with only tarpaulin sheets as cover. Then came the monsoon seasons, millions of tons of wheat were soaked in the heavy torrential rains and rotted away. Millions starved and the food disaster caused a national uproar.

Preparing for the next El Niño requires that Africa builds upon experiences learned and incorporate solutions that improve existing practices. For this discussion, it should be emphasized that an effective and climate-smart food sufficiency plan requires a good post-harvest management system. One that will help reduce post-harvest losses, increase farmer income, eliminate the need for chemical fumigants and fossil fuels and lessen the impact of climate change.

HERMETIC STORAGE FOR AFRICA

A storage system being widely promoted throughout Africa that fits the storage requirements of food producers in the continent is a hermetic storage. It is a solution that can be used by farmers and large-scale food producers. It is designed to meet the storage needs of the continent – affordable, efficient and does not require huge operating costs.

Hermetic storage such as patented Cocoons and liner bags are designed to be gas and water tight. Because of its low permeability to air and moisture, hermetic solutions can eliminate insects in all life-stages without the need for chemical pesticides. Additionally, Cocoons and liner bags does not consume electricity or other forms of fossil fuels to install and operate. It is safer for consumers and environment friendly.

The technology has been utilized in Africa for more than a decade now. In fact, a Cocoon was installed in Rwanda in 2002 stored maize for 12 years. When it was opened in 2014, the commodities were still in excellent condition and looked as good as the day they were stored.

Smaller liner bags are also available for smallholder farmers. These bags come in various sizes that range from 25 to 70 kilograms. Popular liner bags include the GrainPro SuperGrainbag (SGB) line and the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS). The SGB Premium and SGB Farm are made from multi-layered PE with a protective layer. Meanwhile, the PICS bag is composed of two plastic liner bags and an outer bag made of local materials.

There are financial benefits, too. Hermetic storage reduces operating costs associated to chemical applications and the use of electricity. The crops, too, become highly sought by food producers who demand quality. During lean months, crops are bought at a much higher price, which radically increases farmer profits. In Nigeria, this system has led a significant number of unemployed youth to pick up the plow and work the land.

These solutions are convenient and simple for farmers to install and manage. In terms of quality preservation, these solutions protect food without using chemical fumigants. It reduces food losses and ensures a clean food supply to African consumers. In a continent that has seen its fair share of food security and food quality problems, hermetic storage could provide a viable solution.

ADOPTING THE TECHNOLOGY

Whether or not a future El Niño will likely happen, public-private partnerships are needed to ensure that sustainable and climate-smart post-harvest technologies and practices are adopted. Green and sustainable technologies are not only profitable in the short-term, but its social and environmental benefits outweigh any initial investments placed in it.

Becoming a more climate-smart food producer remains a major challenge. Government bodies, non-profit groups and development organizations in the continent should work together and begin advocating the wide adoption of more efficient solutions to food security. Governments, too, should be able to assess the impact of these solutions to continuously improve their coping strategies.

Capacity building should go together with all forms of encouragement. Developing and strengthening the skills, processes and resources for food producers will help them to adopt, adapt and thrive in a fast-moving, climate-changing world.

The role of Africa in food security and climate change is extremely critical. The rest of the world will be monitoring how well it implements food security mitigating plans. From the recent impacts of El Niño on food security, health and livelihoods, Africa should act with a sense of urgency to solve its food security issues. Mistakes from the past cannot be repeated.

Sources:

http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/disasters/multimedia/el-nino-hunger-food-crisis-fao-1.html

http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/farming/news/invest-in-smallholders-spur-food-security.html

http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/disasters/opinion/africa-prepare-against-next-el-ni-o-and-why.html

http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/food-security/news/us-project-aid-food-security-africa.html

CLIMATE-SMART STORAGE TO TAKE A BITE OFF FOOD LOSS

November 25th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

The World Bank Group (WBG) recently began promoting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as a solution to the growing agricultural problems and malnutrition faced by developing countries. As part of this new direction, the WBG will begin screening and funding projects that leverages on CSA.

As a new approach, CSA will transform agricultural strategies. The goal is to secure food in a changing global climate. CSA is looking to simultaneously achieve increased productivity and incomes, enhanced agricultural resilience to climate change and the significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Efficient food systems could play a large role in the future of agriculture and food production while meeting the CSA agenda. Cite the use of sustainable and organic agricultural storage – it is known to reduce food losses and cut down reliance on chemical fumigants and fossil fuels.

The vulnerability of agriculture to extreme weather conditions poses a challenge in meeting the increasing demands for food. Over the next 15 years, it is projected that food demands will rise by at least 20 percent leading to an eventual crisis if steps to mitigate had not been taken.

Developing countries will be hurt the most. Recent studies concluded that one in nine suffers from chronic hunger and 12.9 percent of the total population are undernourished. In terms of monetary impact, food losses cost US$940 billion annually.

Adopting a climate-smart approach to agriculture is desirable from a socio-economic and environmental standpoint. Ultra-Hermetic™ solutions like the GrainPro Cocoon relies solely on the principle of modified atmospheres to protect grains and seeds against insects and fungal growth. It does not require electricity and fossil fuels to operate and could be counted on to protect commodities from erratic and extreme weather conditions.

These solutions enable users – especially smallholder farmers – to store and safely preserve their commodities for longer periods, increase their outputs and sell only high-quality crops for increased incomes.

A good example of how farmers and consumers can benefit from climate-smart postharvest technologies can be found in Nigeria. The Babban Gona project is a privately-funded livelihood-building program that helps small hold farmers with machineries, seeds and all other support they need to increase their on-farm outputs.

Upon harvest, the farmcers drop their crops at Babban Gona centers to be processed, bagged, cataloged and stored for up to six months. The crops are sold to trusted buyers who pay the farmers a premium price for the quality of their crops.

With food security issues increasingly gaining attention, climate-smart agriculture should be high on the agenda of all public agencies and private institutions, especially in developing parts of the world. Hermetic storage is an eco-friendly solution that are aligned to food security targets and can be counted on to meet CSA objectives.

Sources:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3325e/i3325e11.pdf

http://www.fao.org/climate-smart-agriculture/en/

http://reliefweb.int/report/world/climate-smart-agriculture-urgently-needed-africa

http://businessworld.in/article/Climate-Smart-Agriculture-Holds-Key-To-Food-Security-World-Bank/29-08-2017-124985/

http://grist.org/article/fumigating-our-way-to-climate-change/

http://www.wri.org/publication/reducing-food-loss-and-waste

http://www.fnbnews.com/Top-News/food-loss–waste-amounts-to-economic-losses-worth-940-billion-worldwide-41048

JAMES SHERBLOM JOINS GRAINPRO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

November 23rd, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

We are pleased to announce that Rev. Dr. James Peter Sherblom, also known as Jim, has joined GrainPro as its newest member of its Board of Directors on October 2017. He is bringing in more than 35 years of business wisdom to GrainPro.

Jim, who lives in Concord with his wife, Loretta, is a minister, a spiritual nonfiction author, and an active private investor to the biopharmaceutical industry and to early stage science companies.

As a business executive, Jim was an international strategy consultant at Bain and Company from 1980 to 1983, Senior Vice President and CFO at Genzyme Corporation from 1984 to 1989, Chairman and CEO of TSI Corporation from 1989 to 1993, President of Seaflower Associates from 1983 to 2013, and Managing Partner of Seaflower Ventures from 1986 to 2011. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration with high distinction from Harvard Business School (1980) and a Bachelor’s degree from Yale University (1977).

In addition to his work as an investor, Jim holds a Masters of Divinity in 2004 and a Doctor of Ministry in 2013, both with highest honors, from Andover Newton Theological School. Jim was ordained in May 2004 and served as Senior Minister at First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Brookline, Massachusetts from 2004 to 2015.

THE ORGANIC WAY TO PROTECT ORGANIC FOOD

November 18th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

Agriculture was developed to produce crops and livestock for human consumption. After harvesting, crops need to be stored for up to a year – sometimes more. Unfortunately, insects and other organisms consume these crops while in storage.  It is estimated that around 5 to10 percent of agricultural crops produced are lost due to pest and insect infestation each year, resulting in billions of dollars of economic losses. The impacts of food losses are even more felt in developing and tropical countries – places where most of the world’s food is produced.

The widely-accepted way to kill or control insects is to use chemicals. Their convenience in controlling pests led to the increase of its use over the past half century. Although it is very convenient and economical, pesticides are also known to cause problems to the environment and health of consumers who are exposed to crops with chemical residues.

These chemicals do not remain in the place where they are applied. Chemicals move through the air, water and soil. They come in contact with other organisms and creatures; often killing the natural enemies of pests. This process disrupts and alter the balance of the local ecosystem. Eventually, chemicals will cause “resistance” in pests and insects, making them ultimately non-responsive to them.

Chemicals are also known to be harmful to humans. Exposure to these chemicals may cause poisoning. It is also linked to the development of cancer and attributed to the deaths of around 40,000 people worldwide each year. Fetuses, infants, growing children, pregnant and nursing mothers along with women of childbearing age are mostly at risk for adverse health conditions as a result from exposure to pesticides.

There is also biological accumulation and magnification wherein ingested chemical substances build up in the body. Humans and animals do not have the proper natural mechanisms to remove these substances. Many synthetic pesticides are not designed to be broken down. Therefore, these chemicals, when consumed, are permanently stored in the body tissue.

With the long list of negative effects in the use of pesticides, organic farming has become popular in the last 15 years to reduce the environmental and health impacts of chemicals. Since rinsing conventional produce does not wash away all pesticide residue, eating an organic diet is the best way to reduce exposure to chemical pesticides.

However, a number of certified organic farmers still apply harmful chemicals during the postharvest process, particularly during storage and transport. Aside from leaving chemical residues on their stored crops, they are only able to kill adult insects. Often, eggs survive and develop immunity towards these chemicals. They grow into adults – continuing to do more damage.

One way for farmers to stop the application of chemicals to their crops and seeds is by using new and more innovative storage solutions. Cold storage is the most popular choice among food producers. However, this method is very expensive. Subsequently, refrigeration only renders the pests temporarily incapacitated and they may attack later after their hibernation.

A more effective way to organically and safely stop infestation and fungal contamination is by the deprivation of oxygen and moisture. Hermetic storage has been around for thousands of years. This is an inexpensive alternative that cuts off the exchange of air and water to kill all insects, including their eggs upon hatching and inhibit the growth of aflatoxin-producing molds. Hermetic storage does not require the use of chemicals. Regardless of how the crops are grown, hermetic storage can be easily integrated into the postharvest chain – storage and transport. Oxygen absorbers can also be used to speed up hypoxia – an environmental condition where oxygen content is reduced to levels detrimental to aerobic organisms. GrainPro has developed patented Ultra-Hermetic™ storage solutions that allow carbon dioxide to be flushed into the storage device.

These Ultra-hermetic storage bags, liners and containers are known to reduce the loss of dry agricultural commodities to only one percent. With this innovation, organic farmers can claim (for a fact) that their crops are indeed organic from farm to market. Most importantly, hermetic bags will eliminate the negative effects associated with the use of chemicals. GrainPro helps protect the environment and the community of food producers, while ensuring that families and consumers of these crop are safe and healthy.

KEEPING IT REAL – SUMINTER INDIA ORGANICS

November 11th, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

The organic food industry is a multi-billion economy with an increasing demand. A major challenge for companies that supply certified organic products is preserving the quality of products organically after harvest. Many companies that grow organic crops are forced to take refuge to chemicals to stop infestation and inhibit fungal growth during storage and transport. These chemicals may leave residues on food that could have adverse health effects to consumers, especially among children.

Doesn’t sound too organic, right?

Suminter India Organic is serious about their products. They realized that their postharvest process plays a huge role in ensuring that their products – herbs and spices, fibers, oil seeds, cereals and nuts – stay organic throughout the value chain. They wanted to make sure that their products reach their customers in optimal and pure condition without the need for chemical fumigation.

Cocoons at Suminter’s facility.

This attitude inspired them to employ innovative measures in 2010. They partnered with hermetic storage flag-bearer GrainPro, Inc., whose line of certified-for-organic-use and Ultra-Hermetic™ solutions are leading the way in drying, storing and shipping dried organic produce. They regularly use the Cocoons as a non-toxic fumigated, storage solution; the Collapsible Dryer Cases for drying; and the TranSafeliner for trans-shipment of organic spices and oil seeds.

“We were skeptical at first, but GrainPro’s hermetic solutions impressed us when results of the trial in 2010 came back,” explains Mr. Vivekanand, Director Technical at Suminter. “The visual and aromatic quality of the stored crops were surprisingly good, insects were controlled and no traces of aflatoxin-producing molds were detected.”

Loyalty is important to Suminter. The use of Ultra-Hermetic technology is another way that Suminter shows their loyalty to their customers and farmers. Since 2003, their focus has been to retain the loyalties of both. They work closely with local agricultural communities across India to share the economic rewards of a thriving organic market to smallholder farmers. Additionally, they make sure that their customers in 19 countries across five continents are 100 percent satisfied with their products and services.

Suminter’ s customers are in a long-term relationship as they consistently receive high-quality products year after year.

“GrainPro’s technology has contributed to our growth and has enabled us to uphold our core mission of staying organic,” adds Vivek. This growth led Suminter to move into a larger, more modern facility to keep up with the incessantly growing demands for their products. They also branched out to form Bergwerff Organic India Pvt., Ltd., supplying customers in the United States, Europe and Australia.

That’s keeping it real!

PHILIPPINE FARMERS RECEIVE TRAINING ON STORAGE AND SUN DRYING

November 3rd, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

Farmers from Saranggani Province, Philippines received the much-needed training last month on proper sun drying and Ultra-Hermetic storage – thanks to the collaborative effort between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and GrainPro. More than 30 farmers from cooperatives participated in seminars conducted in six municipalities across the province.

The training is part of the DA’s efforts to reinvigorate the agriculture sector in the region. Known locally as the Special Areas for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program, the objective is to identify problems and recommend solutions to address poverty and create livelihoods in the poorest parts of the Saranggani.

Alnor Limbo, Technical Support engineer for GrainPro, explains that, “the training of SAAD beneficiaries creates the much-needed awareness and interest in post-harvest technologies that will reduce losses in food supply and income.” The training program involved classroom sessions and hands-on training on proper drying and organic storage using the GrainPro Collapsible Dryer Case II (CDC II) and the Self-Verifying Cocoon (SVC).

The CDC II is an improved solar drying floor that protects the commodities from the effects of sudden rains during drying operation. The SVC is an Ultra-Hermetic storage container that stops infestation and inhibits fungal contamination in stored grains and seeds by preventing the exchange of air and moisture. Together, these products form a combination that effectively reduces losses of food supply and income. The farmers intend to use the CDC II on locally harvested crops such as cassava, paddy and corn, while the SVC is intended to store seeds for the creation of seed banks.

USAID PARTNERS WITH BABBAN GONA

October 21st, 2017 by GrainProMarketing No comments »

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signs a two-year partnership with Babban Gona, GrainPro’s partner and Cocoon user in Nigeria. The partnership promotes the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector by increasing access to profitable markets, improved seeds, and modern farming machinery for more than 45,000 smallholder Nigerian farmers.

Under the USAID partnership, Babban Gona will help address economy of scale problems by forming cooperatives that will receive support over the next two years. The plan is to help a total of 20,000 farmers increase yields along with their potential incomes by 30 per cent.

Babban Gona CEO Kola Masha was recently awarded the prestigious Skoll Awards for his contributions to developing a sustainable system of agriculture that strengthens the food supply and creates livelihood opportunities for all Nigerians.

Babban Gona uses GrainPro Cocoons as storage for grains of its farmers-members.