The Dormaa West District Best Rice Farmer for 2015, Mr Johnson Opoku, has advised farmers in the country, especially cereal crop producers, to adopt the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags for storing their farm produce since the bags are the most effective storage facility in the system now.
He gave the advice at a durbar of chiefs and community leaders at Abusua Paadier, a farming community in the Dormaa West district of the Brong Ahafo Region.
Dubbed, “Open-the-bag ceremony,” the programme was organised by the Rural Education and Agriculture Development International (READI), a local NGO in the community.
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According to Mr Opoku, he had been farming maize, cowpea and rice for over 20 years and that his major constraint over the years had been how to effectively store his produce. He, however, said with the introduction of the PICS bags, he was now able to confidently store his grains without any destruction to his produce.
“Normally, “if you store maize or beans without any chemicals, it will not even take two months and all the foodstuffs are completely destroyed by weevils. Sometimes, even if you apply chemicals they (weevils) will still destroy some of the food after some time. I am very delighted that with the PICS bags, I am now able to store my produce without losses,” he claimed.
A PICS bag is made up of two layers of polythene bags surrounded by a third layer of woven polypropylene, thereby creating a hermetically sealed environment in which harvested crops are stored. The oxygen-deprived environment proves fatal to insects and bruchids and prevents them from causing harm to the stored grains. The bag can store grains for more years because there is no air space for the survival of the weevils to cause damage to the produce.
Statistics indicate that close to 70 per cent of grains harvested from the farm are mostly destroyed by weevils or bruchids within the first three months of storage. Even though the crops are stored or preserved with certain chemicals, they still do not stand the test of time. The Purdue University in the United States of America introduced the PICS bags to provide a simple, effective low-cost method of reducing post-harvest loss of cereals due to insect infestations in West and Central Africa.
The Project Manager of READI, Mr Isaac Nunoo, said his outfit had already distributed the PICS bags in 500 communities in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions over the last one year. He encouraged all the farmers in the country to adopt the PICS bags to avoid the excessive use of chemicals which he said sometimes put the lives of the farmers and their households in danger.
Mr Nunoo said his outfit had been training farmers on issues such as soil management, best agronomic practices, harvesting and post-harvest technologies.