Enhancing food security using PICS bags

Enhancing food security using PICS bags

24 August 2015. Effective storage of grains such as maize, beans, cowpea, groundnuts and rice has always been a major challenge to smallholder farmers, not only in the country, but the rest of Africa. Grains are mostly destroyed by pests and insects within three months of storage due to the lack of proper storage methods for farmers and food dealers.

It is for this reason that Purdue University in the United States of America must be commended for introducing a new technology called, “Purdue Improved Crop Storage” (PICS) bags to provide a simple, effective low-cost method of reducing post-harvest losses in cereal crops due to insect infestations in West and Central Africa.

  • A PICS bag consists of two layers of polyethylene bags surrounded by a third layer of woven polypropylene. This oxygen-deprived environment proves fatal to insects and pests and therefore prevents them from causing harm to stored grains.
  • PICS technology was developed in the late 1980s by Professor Larry Murdock of Purdue University with support from partners in Cameroon and funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • With further support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the technology was introduced into Africa in 2007 with the focus on the storage of cowpea.
  • This initial phase of the project covered ten countries across West and Central Africa, including Ghana. It was later established that the technology was as effective in controlling pests and insects from other cereal crops as it had been for cowpea.

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