The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) says encouraging the use of Purdue Improved Crop Storage (Pics) bags could help minimise postharvest loses and could boost the quality of farm produce in the country.
Unido National Project Coordinator, Jackson Hau, was speaking in Mulanje on Monday during a day-long training on Pics bags usage.
Currently, about 30 percent of every year’s harvest is lost to postharvest insects and rodents.
Pics bags provide a simple, low-cost method of reducing post-harvest losses by keeping the produce away from damaging pests such as weevils.
A Pics bag consists of two layers of polyethylene liners and a third layer made from woven polypropylene.
When each layer is tied and closed separately, it creates a hermetically sealed environment for storing harvested grain. This oxygen-deprived environment proves fatal for postharvest insects.
Hau said reducing postharvest loses could enable local farmers to be food secure and, therefore, offer the remaining crops to the market.
He said, apart from maize, cowpeas, pigeon peas and other crops could be secured. Pics bags have also proven to be effective in storing groundnuts as it reduces the spread of aflatoxin.
Hau said reducing aflatoxin growth would boost the chances of the country’s groundnuts of doing well on the international market.
Pics Supply Chain Business Consultant, Barnabas Komakoma, said the bags are easy to use and are cost effective as compared to ordinary bags used for storing produce.
“The good thing about Pics bags is that one does not need to use any chemicals to deal with postharvest insects. In addition, unlike ordinary bags, the Pics bags could be reused for up to four times,” said Komakoma.