A Global Agricultural Research Partnership

Maize: Not just a question of producing more, but also of storing better

Many problems in agriculture don’t require expensive or hi-tech solutions in order to have a profound impact. Here is just one example:

In Kenya, there is a beetle so destructive that locals call it by the nickname “Osama.” This beetle, “the Larger Grain Borer”, is a weevil that often destroys up to a third of a maize crop stored in silos or granaries.

After a harvest, most small farmers store grains such as maize, in bags, placed in handmade sheds, not an ideal storage to keep them safe from pests.

While normally, the harvest provides their family with months of food, many farmers struggle with a dilemma: if they can’t store their maize safely, either they loose a significant portion of their crop to weevils, rats and other pests OR farmers have to sell their grain, soon after the harvest.

But, after a harvest, supplies peak and prices are low. It is the worst time for a farmer to sell, but many have little choice. “Sell for less or lose everything”, becomes a farmer’s dilemma.

We have a simple solution to this problem: We designed a small metal silo allows a farmer to store grains for years at a time. The grain remains edible and free from pests. Farmers can feed their families or wait until prices are more favorable to sell their crops at market.

CIMMYT is working with local organizations to make locally produced metal silos, affordable to small farmers. They are manufactured out of galvanized flat iron sheets. The metal silos are airtight (oxygen-depleted) and mechanically keep weevils and other pests out. Where approved, fumigants such as phostoxin can be used to kill the insects that are carried with the grain into the silo. The silos we make can store different types of grain: maize, beans, sorghum, millets, cowpeas, green grams, pigeon peas, etc.

Read more about this CIMMYT project.

19 Responses to Maize: Not just a question of producing more, but also of storing better

  1. Rachael Ouko says:

    I want to plant maize this season to sell when price is good and I was wondering how to store them.
    Now I know.

    • Kay Chapman says:

      Dear Rachael, thanks for your feedback! Glad the post was of use…

      • Brian says:

        Hi Kay,

        I am interested in buying a silo for my family in rural areas. I am based in South Africa and would like contact details of trained artisans and also experts who can advise. Is it possible to get this contact details?


  2. umerimtiaz says:

    I want to store the maize..please tell me how can I store the crop in my warehouse…and also tell me that what are the diseases can be faced when storing the crop

  3. Julia Slocum says:

    I was wondering if you have specifications or instructions for constructing the metal silos. We would like to train local metal workers in Karatu, Tanzania on how make them (and then purchase them for our girl’s education center.)

  4. martha says:

    Perfect timing, I am facing that dilemma now,just harvested,how do I get the silos and at what price? (Nakuru, Kenya)

  5. kirenga says:

    thanx alot for this infor. i would like 2do maize keeping at a larger scale and for a long time in uganda. is this kind of storing relaible and how long can i keep them and am sure they r fyn. thanx

  6. Robert sevo says:

    How can one get the metallic silo and how much would cost?

  7. Leonard yaghr says:

    It is in my plans to grow maize on larger quantities but my problem had always been hw to store it…i must say im very happy to hear this..i will very happy if you consider organizing a workshop here in Ghana on the use of the metallic silo and how we can get one…

  8. nana says:

    Please I need one of these silos. Im in Ghana. How do I get in touch?

  9. okpoti apedwa says:

    infact the traders ate killing us the farmers in Ghana, kindly help us with these storage systems to enable us control de market small.

  10. Von-Frans Bay says:

    Hello there! I engage in farm produce (maize, beans, groundnuts & green pepper) on a very large scale and therefore, would like to know the sizes of the silos with their corresponding prices. Thank You!

  11. […] that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future, is addressing the same issue of lack for post-harvest storage in other regions of Kenya. Here’s an interview with one recipient of a simple metal silo and […]

  12. Watuwa Nathan M says:

    I am in Uganda and I would like to save maize & beans’ farmers’ Groups in rural areas from exploitation by traders through setting up best storage system for the two crops and supply them during scurcity at higher prices. What capacity of SILOS do I need and how much will it cost me?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *