Cover Image
close this bookCARE Food Manual (CARE , 1998, 355 p.)
close this folderChapter 7 - Storage and Handling
close this folderII. Selecting Food Storage Facilities
View the documentA. Criteria
Open this folder and view contentsB. Types of Warehouse Space Available
View the documentC. Determining Warehouse Capacities/Storage Plan

A. Criteria

In choosing appropriate warehousing, consider the following:

· Companies and agencies already experienced in logistics with storage facilities available for loan or hire, such as port(s), railroads, agrobusinesses or commercial distributors

· Location and accessibility to rail, road, and sea or river, with ample space at warehouses for trucks to turn around and unload

· Location on high ground (if area floods) and terrain which is hard packed and does not become soft and muddy in rains

· Storage capacity in total square meters (See Determining Warehouse Capacities/Storage Plans below.)

· Structural layout and condition (roof, walls, fences)

· Security, including locks for doors; grates on windows; guards, if feasible and necessary. Warehouse compound should be enclosed by a security wall and, if possible, have perimeter lighting.

· Handling equipment, for main, large warehouses, e.g., forklifts, stacking conveyors

· Labor availability, both permanent and day labor for carrying bags or containers of food on and off stacks and performing reconstitution activities.


Assessment should begin with an inventory of all facilities that may be available for storage of food at primary, secondary and distribution sites. In all cases, leasing arrangements or contracts for warehouse services must be in writing. See Agreements and Contracts.

1. Commercial

If commercial storage space is available, CARE should do an analysis of rental charges, and where appropriate, review rates with donors. Some country offices prefer not to rent warehouse space because of restrictions on the schedules of warehouse staff, limitations on use of equipment, incompatible systems for accounting and infestation control, and difficulties in collecting claims. However, these issues are usually negotiable if the warehouse is otherwise suitable.

Agrobusinesses and commercial distributors may have warehouses that can be made available temporarily for a short-term operation. Agricultural warehouses are often located close to rural production areas, while commercial distributors are generally in urban and town centers.

2. Government and Counterpart Storage Facilities

In many countries national, provincial, or local government stores are available. Encourage host governments and counterpart organizations to provide warehouse space at no cost before the project begins. If warehouse space must be rented or leased from the government, monthly fees should be nominal.

Local community leaders or associations can provide rooms in schools or churches, or village huts, in addition to local stores.

3. Transit Warehouses and Sheds

Some clearing and forwarding agents operate large transit warehouses for receipt, consolidation, and dispatch of cargo. Railroads often operate transit sheds to facilitate the loading and discharge of goods. However a transit shed is not a warehouse. It is meant for short-term storage only, and charges generally accrue on a daily or weekly basis. Transit sheds can be very expensive over extended periods of time.

Many different people may have access to transit sheds. CARE food could be stored together with non-CARE material, increasing the potential for loss or damage.

4. Open Storage

In emergency situations in remote regions, food may have to be stored on open ground without cover or security, thus more vulnerable to spoilage and theft. In these cases, finding high ground is critical. Open storage should be considered temporary.

a. Construction of Storage Space

Where there is insufficient or inadequate private or government warehouse capacity, country offices may have to consider constructing temporary or permanent warehouses.

Permanent structures should be built after all other possibilities for obtaining warehouses have been explored and usually only for long-term, emergency operations. In general, CARE should not be in the business of constructing and managing its own warehouses.

This will require the approval of CARE USA Headquarters, regional managers and donors where CARE USA is the lead member. Where U.S. Government food is programmed by another CI lead member, the Regional Manager at CARE USA Headquarters and U.S. Government donors must also approve any construction.

b. Prefabricated Warehouses

If building materials are not available locally or if time is a factor, especially in emergencies, use prefabricated storage facilities or even tents. A variety of prefabricated warehouses (e.g., Rubb and Viink Halls) with total capacities from 350-400 MT are available.

C. Determining Warehouse Capacities/Storage Plan

The amount of warehouse space required is based on the total volume of food and the different types of food. Information in this section is adapted from Part VI, Storage Specifications of the Commodity Reference Guide, Office of Food for Peace, Agency for International Development, January 1988.

Multiplying the length x width x height to the building eaves gives the gross volume in cubic meters, but a warehouse will never use all available space for food. There must be space available for working, ventilation, a space of about one meter between the stacks and walls, space to store materials and equipment for cleaning, and space to store materials used to repackage food.

General Guidelines for Determining Storage Space

· Allocate space for each type of food by shipment number, and all non-food materials and supplies related to food programs. If necessary, use chalk to mark the stack location on the warehouse floor.

· Allow sufficient space for easy access to the stacks for inspecting, loading and unloading. Stacks should be one meter from the walls, with another meter between stacks.

· Allow space for storage of cleaning materials and supplies.

· Allocate areas for damaged food by shipment number.

· Allow sufficient space to repackage damaged food and place it in separate stacks by shipment numbers.

Thus, while a small warehouse may have a gross cubic volume of 150 cubic meters, when taking into consideration the space between stacks, walls and the space between the stack and the eaves, its usable volume is only 48 cubic meters. In addition, non-food items and office space may take up another 15% or 20% of the usable additional space.

The following illustrations show gross dimensions of warehouses and how this volume is used when stacks of food are stored.

Figure 1: Warehouse with one stack of grain.

Figure 2: Warehouse with two stacks of grain.

Once usable volume has been determined, the next step is to calculate how much food can actually be stored in the warehouse. Use the following rules of thumb to estimate the usable space needed for different types of food:

· One metric ton of grain or pulses (twenty 50-kg bags) requires approximately two cubic meters of storage space, whether the twenty bags are end to end or stacked in layers.

· One metric ton of processed food, such as corn soya blends (forty 25-kg bags), will take up slightly less storage space because the bags are less bulky. There is less air and the grains are ground up.

· One metric ton of oil (44 cartons with six tins each) requires approximately 1.4 cubic meters of storage space, whether the 44 cartons are laid out end to end or stacked in layers.

· Similar calculations must be done for materials used to reconstitute damaged food, and for other non-food project materials and supplies.

If one MT of grain (twenty 50 kg bags) takes up approximately two cubic meters of volume, the small warehouse described above can hold 24 MT (420 bags) of corn. However, taking into consideration other possible space needs, subtracting another 5%, usable space may be reduced to approximately 68 cubic meters. In this case, the warehouse could only store around 23 MT of corn.

The illustrations below estimate usable stacking space for small, medium, large and warehouses, taking into consideration from 1 to 8 stacks. The illustrations do not take into account additional space requirements described in the above General Guidelines for Determining Storage Space.

Space Utilization - Usable Stacking Volume in Cubic Meters

Small Warehouse (Height = 3M)

Medium Warehouse (Height = 4M)

Large Warehouse (Height = 5M)

Eight stacks; four meter central gangway