Giant storage bags save crops from mold, pests
Israeli-designed GrainPro Cocoons provide a surprisingly simple and cheap way for African and Asian farmers to keep their grain market-fresh.
As much as 50 percent of every grain harvest and 100% of every pulse harvest is lost to pests and mold, Navarro tells ISRAEL21c. Subsistence farmers in developing countries, who consume a large part of what they produce, tend to store their crops in primitive baskets or bags, which are not effective in keeping hungry bugs and micro-contaminants out.
“We are trying to help them save crops for the near future, not 50 years later. But perhaps our solution can help educate people too,” he says.
“People put their crops in baskets assuming that nothing will happen. They come to the market with them and see a large part is consumed by insects or mold. There are many losses; the 50 percent figure is a normal loss for cereal and pulses. And when the insects enter, they make it unfit for human consumption.”
From an environmental point of view, producing food with high losses is extremely wasteful and carbon intensive as well. Adding volatile chemical compounds to the problem doesn’t make sense. They are expensive and they can have disastrous health consequences for people eating the produce and living near the growing fields.
The straightforward, cost-effective solution developed by Navarro more than two decades ago gives farmers crop security with no harmful side effects. Provided that the harvest is dried properly before getting hermetically sealed in the large storage bags, it’s safe for the future in extreme conditions aside from massive flooding or hurricanes.
And now in Kenya, when individual farmers do not have enough crops to fill their own Cocoons, they can bring their grain to a seed bank to be stored together with their neighbors’ crops in a collective Cocoon. When they need them, the contributors get their grain returned to them intact.
This is one of many projects that GrainPro has developed, with the help of Navarro’s Cocoon.