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ARS Home » Plains Area » Manhattan, Kansas » Center for Grain and Animal Health Research » Stored Product Insect and Engineering Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #286560

Title: Innovative storage solutions to improve food security for small farmers


Submitted to: Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2011
Publication Date: 8/8/2012
Citation: Dowell, F.E., Dowell, C.N. 2012. Innovative storage solutions to improve food security for small farmers (abstract). Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods. 4:143. DOI: 10.1111/J.1757-837X.2012.00149.x

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Solutions exist in developed countries to reduce post-harvest grain losses caused by insects to less than 1%., yet developing countries can experience post-harvest losses of >20% (APHLIS, 2011). Most solutions available to developed countries are not appropriate for developing country small farmers that can account for a 50-75% of grain storage in these countries (Baloch, 1999). If these losses can be reduced, then hunger can be reduced, and income and food security increased. Varied results have been shown when using commercial and traditional methods of controlling insects that include pyrethroids, diatomaceous earths, ash, and local repellents (Stathers et al 2008). More recently, methods of creating oxygen-free environments using plastic bags and locally-available metal containers have been used (Murdock et al 2003). These methods can be effective but can be too expensive for many farmers. Plastic bags are also vulnerable to damage by rodents. Our research group has investigated three innovative storage solutions using readily available materials: insecticide-treaded bed nets (ITNs), repellents, and creation of modified atmospheres in storage. ITNs are widely distributed in malaria endemic areas. We have shown in laboratory studies that if grain is stored in these bed nets that have been treated with permethrins, there was almost no insect infestation. However, grain stored in untreated nets became highly infested. We are also working with low-cost, food-safe repellent that has shown to be effective at preventing insect infestations in stored grain. This repellent can be produced locally and is effective at repelling other disease vectors that are common in developing countries. Thus, there could be multiple health benefits resulting from the application of this product. Finally, creating a modified atmosphere that kills insects can be achieved using CO2 from composting material. As organic material decomposes, it produces CO2 which can then be used to create an atmosphere unfavorable for insect survival. No special materials are needed for this low cost method of controlling insects, other than common plastic bags or metal contains to contain the grain and capture the CO2. In summary, ITN’s, novel repellents, and modified atmospheres can be low cost and effective solutions to controlling insects for small farmers in developing countries.