HarvestPlus Nigeria is taking a proactive stance to promote environmentally friendly crop storage practices. To mitigate the impacts associated with synthetic pesticides on both the environment and crops, storage methods that eliminate the need for harmful chemical insecticides—like multilayer hermetic bags—are being promoted in the Scaling Climate- and Nutrition-Smart Crops Through Market Systems in North Nigeria project funded with UK aid from the UK government through its Propcom+ program. Multilayer hermetic bags such as ‘GrainPro’ or ‘PICS bags’ are a key technology that provide a safe and efficient storage solution for cereal crops such as maize and beans.
Traditionally, the use of synthetic pesticides has been prevalent in grain storage to combat pests. However, the adverse effects of these chemicals on the environment and the quality of the product are a concern. To address this problem, HarvestPlus Nigeria is promoting integrated pest management approaches that reduce the use of chemical pesticides and minimize negative impacts on the environment. The project aims to support and educate farmers, enabling them to reduce their reliance on chemical pesticides and fostering a safer and more sustainable storage process.
As part of this initiative, GrainPro hermetic bags have been introduced as a highly effective storage solution. These vacuum-sealed bags, made of high-strength polyethylene with exceptional gas and water vapor barrier properties, provide a protective environment for agricultural commodities. The bags are designed to maintain a vacuum seal, preventing moisture entry, and safeguarding the quality of stored commodities, such as aroma, taste, flavor, and color. Additionally, GrainPro hermetic bags offer protection against insect infestation and mold growth, ensuring the longevity and safety of stored produce.
To facilitate successful adoption of this sustainable storage practice, HarvestPlus Nigeria has conducted extensive training programs. A total of 45 extension officers from Jigawa, Kano, and Kaduna States have undergone training of trainers (ToT) sessions, focusing on post-harvest handling and storage solutions for biofortified crops. These trainers have subsequently imparted their knowledge on more than 6,750 farmers, equipping them with the necessary skills to implement eco-friendly storage techniques. The project is committed to continuous training to support farmers to adopt these practices effectively.
In addition to promoting GrainPro hermetic bags, HarvestPlus Nigeria is collaborating with the National Stored Product Research Institute (NSPRI), a government institution specializing in post-harvest handling and storage research. By leveraging the expertise of NSPRI, the project aims to introduce more environmentally friendly technologies developed by the institute. This collaboration is expected to benefit hundreds of thousands of farmers in Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, and Gombe states, where the project is implemented.
Through these concerted efforts, HarvestPlus Nigeria is paving the way for a more sustainable and pesticide-free storage system for food crops. By prioritizing environmentally friendly practices, the project aims to protect the quality of agricultural commodities, reduce food waste and losses, and improve the long-term well-being of farmers and consumers alike.