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.