Cover Image
close this bookPrimary School Agriculture Volume II: Background Information (GTZ, 1985, 190 p.)
close this folderPart III: Crop storage
close this folder10. Tuber preservation
View the document10.1 Present state of tuber storage
View the document10.2 What happens to tubers in storage
View the document10.3 Preparing Tubers for Storage
View the document10.4 General storage principles
View the document10.5 Tuber stores
View the document10.6 Storage pests of tubers

10.1 Present state of tuber storage

Many farmers grow and eat more tubers than grains. This is especially true of the people in rain forest areas. The principal tuber crops are cocoyams, yams, cassava, and sweet potatoes, with some production of Irish potatoes in the higher parts of the highlands. Although all of these tubers are quite different from each other, they do have similar characteristics when they are in storage. Therefore, when this chapter speaks of tubers in general, it is speaking of the five types of tubers mentioned above.

Whereas the different kinds of tubers act almost the same in storage, storing tubers and storing grain is very different. Grain is much more durable during storage and transport. Tubers, on the other hand, bruise, cut, and spoil very easily. As experienced farmers know, it is much more difficult to store tubers successfully.

Tubers do not have as many different kinds of enemies as stored grain. However, tubers are delicate and so easily attacked that only a slight wound or cut can spread disease all through the tuber and spoil it totally. In storage the major pests seem to be:

- mould and fungus (which cause rotting and spoilage),
- insects (the weevil),
- rats.

Insects and rats do not seem to be as serious pests as they are in stored grain. Nevertheless, the problem with fungus and mould attacks are serious and widespread. There are no accurate figures for the amount of tubers lost or damaged during storage and transportation, but tuber losses are probably higher than grain storage losses. A reliable estimate of stored tuber losses would be about 15%.

The large losses of tubers after the harvest often discourages farmers from growing more. Most farmers grow enough for their families' needs, with only a small surplus, if any at all, for emergencies or for the local market. Prices of tubers rise every day because quantities of tubers are small in the markets.

With the present problems of tuber storage bothering most farmers, it would be difficult to convince farmers to increase their tuber production. They would lose too much after the harvest to make it worth their while.

Not only would better storage methods help farmers to produce more, but the quality of tubers in the market would improve. Spoilage would be controlled. Farmers could grow and sell more. The large price increases during the scarce periods would be reduced. These developments would benefit both the farmer and the consumer.