Researchers at the Kenyan-based International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) have developed a new crop storage bag that will reduce post-harvest losses
Field trials are currently underway in Makueni County in Kenya for the triple-layered tough plastic bags designed in US-based Purdue University.
Reports indicate similar bags are in use in West Africa protecting cowpea crops against pests.
According to Kenyan researchers, the bags will prevent growth of moulds in harvested grains, which is a major source of aflotoxins.
It is also expected to curb weevils and other post-harvest insect pests.
Each bag costs US$2.50 and a smallholder farmer will need at least 10 bags during the harvesting period.
The bags can be re-used in consequent two or three seasons.
“The bags have the technology to wipe out post-harvest losses at farm level. We can stop deaths due to aflatoxins by using simple bags to store maize,” observed Dr Christoper Mutungi, ICIPE's lead scientist in the project.
In Kenya, a particular notorious weevil-nicknamed ‘Osama’ has been a menace to many smallholder farmers especially in Ukambani region.
“Losses from weevils can be 20 to 30 per cent and farmers are particularly interested in technology that can curb this problem,” noted Dr Mutungi.