Mobile utility storage for Grains – Reducing Postharvest losses in Africa

  • 16th May 2017
  • by secretary

Agronomists know that in environments like Northern Ghana which couple naturally moving air of low relative humidity and the heating effects of sunshine, grain will dry standing.

When grain is dried standing, it spends less time close to the ground exposed to the soil-borne fungi that produce aflatoxin. However those operations that are too small or not conscious of quality, harvest grain with little regard for moisture content onto drying tarpaulin or platforms that are at ground level. Additional handling and drying grain close to the ground increases the risk of soil borne fungi that produce aflatoxin and other pests.

Lack of success of using solar based drying among rural commercial [surplus] growers has been attributed to the cost, complicated operational procedures, and the reluctance to change from traditional methods.

It is encouraging that most Northern Ghana Development cultural advisors do see that postharvest is an integral part of the system. However, even though their extended family is exposed to “Postharvest and related input loss” (PHL) like aflatoxin, advisors fail to address how:

  • Bio-control products must overcome the tendency of fungi to exchange DNA before they are an effective means to reduce aflatoxins 
  • Sun and heat will stop fungi, but the colorless aflatoxin that remains is extremely difficult to manually sort from surplus grain 
  • Depending on the crop, when low levels of fungi or insects enter typical “Grain Distribution and Logistical Infrastructure” (GDLI), higher levels of aflatoxin result (IARC, 2015) 
  • Periodic sack rotations are invasive and a labor intensive method of monitoring grain quality
Historically grower harvest grains to be dried, aggregated, stored,
processed and marketed with Grain Distribution Logistics and
Infrastructure (GDLI) and after family needs, surplus
exits to consumers. 

A Grain Distribution Logistics and Infrastructure (GDLI) utility mitigates condensation and rises above the fungi that causes “Postharvest and related input loss” (PHL) like aflatoxin.

  • It is mobile and can be leased to cost-effectively alleviate “Postharvest and related input loss” (PHL) at control points like harvest aggregation, drying platforms, monitoring, storing and processing.
  • Three people with basic construction skills and farm tools can assemble utility GDLI. 
  • Fabricating GDLI in country requires sheet metal and welding skills.
  • Long lasting and low maintenance metal outperforms locally available materials, by forming roofs that allow monitoring and mitigate condensation so residual fungi and dormant insects die.
  • Roofs are supported by robust walls and cone shaped floors that are raised to stop rats, ground water and let gravity enhance the labor for aggregation, cooling aeration, primary processing and cleaning (utility). 
  • Combining utility with wheels creates cost-effective GDLI that: when empty, can be positioned to address contamination, proximity for monitoring, scale for weather, crop pests or demand; let’s transport go to haul heavy loads and facilitates marketing opportunities that reduce the yield gap optimally.