Storage has been the major problem of Nigerian agriculture for a long time and that has resulted in considerable waste of agricultural output.
Due to inadequate storage facilities, a lot of farm produce have been condemned to wastage and our economy has suffered dearly for it.
Nigeria is losing about 2.4 billion tonnes of food yearly to poor harvest and storage facilities (Olumeko, 1999).
With the world population projected to reach 9.1 billion people in the year 2050, there is a need to improve storage techniques in developing countries especially in order to preserve agricultural produce for an ever-growing population.
Maize, being one of the most important cereals used majorly in human consumption is susceptible to pest infestation by weevils, reducing their nutritional value, weight and most importantly, the market price.
Hence, there is a need for improved storage to protect maize and its products from damage or wastage whilst ensuring household food supply.
The purpose of any grain storage facility is to prevent grain loss from;
- Microorganisms (According to The International Rice Research institute).
Conditions for storage
- Maize can be stored for a long period of time (a year of more) if the moisture content is below the safe moisture level (below 14% or 12% and less).
- The moisture level should not rise during the storage process by either re-wetting by rain or imbibing moisture from the surrounding air.
- The maize must be protected from insects, rodents and birds.
The longer the grain needs to be stored, the lower the required moisture content will need to be.
Methods of Storage
Prior to storage, immediately after harvesting, maize should be dried in the field as much as possible to ensure that it reaches safe moisture level and can then be stored properly.
Once the products have reached the safe moisture content, they can be stored permanently.
There are various ways to store maize products depending on the duration of storage and relative humidity of the outside air during the period of storage.
For storage when the storage period is WET (RAINY SEASON);
- Airtight gourds
- Plastic bags
- Well-closed metal drums
- Airtight and waterproof silos
- An underground pit that is made air- and water-tight
- Airtight and waterproof container
Note: Depending on whether the maize is harvested wet or dry, it should be properly dried before storage.
For storage when the storage period is DRY (DRY SEASON);
- A thin layer
- A maize crib
- Jute sacks
- Sealed silos
Note: There are other storage methods not mentioned in this article.
Compiled by Iyanuoluwa Olamide Aliu
Olumeko, D.O. (1999). Simulation and Performance Evaluation of Metal and Brick On-farm Grain Storage Structure in Southwestern Nigeria. Unpublished PhD Thesis Submitted to the Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Jelle Hayma. (2003). Storage of various groups of agricultural products. The storage oftropical agricultural products. Agrodok 31