Reducing grain storage losses in developing countries

Main Article Content

F.E. Dowell
C.N. Dowell


food security, subsistence farmers, hermetic, grains, storage


We investigated the use of insecticide-treated material and modified atmosphere storage for reducing insect damage in stored maize. Results showed that insecticide-treated netting and insecticide-treated seed bags protected grain from insect damage, with the treated seed bags protecting grain for up to nine months if the grain was free from insects before storing. Covering the opening of grain storage containers with treated netting provided good control of stored-grain insects and may offer additional protection for grain silos being promoted in developing countries. Neither treated bags nor netting provided control if the grain contained insects before storage, thus emphasising the need to provide some means of controlling initial infestations at the time of storage when using bags or netting. We also showed that good control of insects can be achieved if the grain is stored in air-tight rigid containers that cannot be penetrated by insects or rodents. Hermetic plastic bags were readily penetrated by insects and rodents, thus negating their ability to protect grain from insects. We also showed that reducing oxygen levels through the use of a candle in stored environments does little to protect grain from insects. Modifying the atmosphere by reducing oxygen levels or raising carbon dioxide levels also provided good control of stored-grain pests. The solutions outlined in this paper offer farmers in developing countries methods to protect grain from stored-grain insects, thus reducing losses and improving food security.

Abstract 149 | PDF Downloads 123


African Post Harvest Losses Information System (APHLIS), 2011. Available at:
Bailey, S.W., 1954. Air-tight storage of grain; its effects on insect pests. I. Calandra granaria L. (Coleoptera, Curculionidae). Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 6: 33-51.
Baloch, U.K., 1999. Wheat: post-harvest operations. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council. FAO, Rome, Italy.
Belcher, C.M. and McElwain, J.C., 2008. Limits for combustion in low O2 redefine paleo atmospheric predictions for the Mesozoic. Science 321: 1197-1200.
Bern, C.J., Yakubu, A., Brumm, T.J. and Rosenstrater, K.A., 2013. Hermetic maize storage systems for subsistence farmers. In: 2013 ASABE Annual International Meeting, 21-24 July 2013, Kansas City, MO, USA, paper 131591815. Available at:
Cao, D., Pimentel, D. and Hart, K., 2002. Postharvest crop losses (insects and mites). In: Pimentel, D. (ed.) Encyclopedia of pest management. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA.
Chi, Y.H., Ahn, J.-E., Youn, D.-J., Lee, S.Y., Liu, T.-X. and Zhu-Salzman, K., 2011. Changes in oxygen and corbon dioxide environment alter gene expression of cowpea bruchids. Journal of Insect Physiology 57: 220-230.
De Groote, H., Kimenju, S.C., Likhayo, P., Kanampiu, F., Tefera, T. and Hellin, J., 2013. Effectiveness of hermetic systems in controlling maize storage pests in Kenya. Journal of Stored Products Research 53: 27-36.
Dowell, F.E. and Dowell, C.N., 2012. Innovative storage solutions to improve food security for small farmers. Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops and Foods 4: 143.
Emekci, M., Navarro, S., Donahaye, J.E., Rindner, M. and Asrieli, A., 2001. Respiration of stored product pests in hermetic conditions. In: Donahaye, E.J., Navarro, S. and Leesch, J.G. (eds.) Proceedings of the International Conference on Controlled Atmosphere and Fumigation in Stored Products. October 29-November 3, 2000. Fresno, CA, USA, pp. 26-35.
Harien, P. and Subramanyam, Bh., 1990. Preventing stored-grain insect infestation. University of Minnesota. Available at:
Litsinger, J., 2005. Final action form. Uganda crop protection pesticide evaluation report and safer use action plan (PERSUAP). Available at:
Margam, V., 2009. Molecular tools for characterization of the legume pod borer Maruca vitrata Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Pyraloidea: Crambidae); mode of action of hermetic storage of cowpea grain. PhD thesis, Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.
Massey, L.K., 2003. Permeability properties of plastics and elastomers – a guide to packaging and barrier materials. William Andrew Publishing/Plastics Design Library, Burlington, MA, USA.
Murdock, L.L., Seck, D., Ntoukam, G., Kitch, L. and Shade, R.E., 2003. Preservation of cowpea grain in sub-Saharan Africa – bean/cowpea CRSP contributions. Field Crops Research 82: 169-178.
Navarro, S., Lider, O. and Gerson, U., 1985. Response of adults of the grain mite, Acarus siro L. to modified atmospheres. Journal Agricultural Entomology 2: 61-68.
Quezada, M.Y., Moreno, J., Vazquez, M.E., Mendoza, M., Mendez-Albores, A. and Moreno-Martinez, E., 2006. Hermetic storage system preventing the proliferation of Prostephanus truncatusHorn and storage fungi in maize with different moisture contents. Postharvest Biology and Technology 39: 321-326.
Sanon, A., Dabire-Binso, L.C. and Ba, N.M., 2011. Triple-bagging of cowpeas with high density polyethylene bags to control the cowpea beetle Callosobruchus maculatus F. (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Journal of Stored Product Research 47: 210-215.
Stathers, T.E., Riwa, W., Mvumi, B.M., Mosha, R., Kitandu, L., Mngara, K., Kaoneka, B. and Morris, M., 2007. Do diatomaceous earths have potential as grain protectants for small-holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa? The case of Tanzania. Crop Protection 27: 44-70.
Tefera, T., Kanampiu, F., De Groote, H., Hellin, J., Mugo, S., Kimenju, S., Beyene, Y., Boddupualli, P.M., Shiferaw, B. and Banziger, M., 2011a. The metal silo: an effective grain storage technology for reducing post-harvest insect and pathogen losses in maize while improving smallholder farmers’ food security in developing countries. Crop Protection 30: 240-245.
Tefera, T., Mugo, S. and Likhayo, P., 2011b. Effects of insect population density and storage time on grain damage and weight loss in maize due to maize weevil Sitophilus zeamais and the larger grain borer Prostephanus truncates. African Journal of Agricultural Research 6: 2249-2254.
Villers, P., Navarro, S. and DeBruin, T., 2010. New applications of hermetic storage for grain storage and transport. In: Proceedings of the 10th International working Conference on Stored Product Protection. June 27-July 2. Estoril, Portugal, pp. 446-451.
Wildman Jr., R.A., Hickey, L.J., Dickinson, M.B., Berner, R.A., Robinson, J.M., Dietrich, M., Essenhigh, R.H. and Wildman, C.B., 2004. Burning of forest materials under late Paleozoic high atmospheric oxygen levels. Geology 32: 457-460.
White, N.D.G., Jayas, D.S. and Muir, W.E., 1995. Toxicity of carbon dioxide at biologically produced levels to stored-product beetles. Environmental Entomology 24: 640-647.