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close this book Programming and Training for Small Farm Grain Storage
close this folder Part I. Grain storage project programming
View the document A. Grain storage project goals and objectives
View the document B. Assessing local interest in postharvest methods improvement
View the document C. Investigating local storage conditions
View the document D. Developing a strategy for volunteer involvement
View the document E. Determining program support needs
View the document F. Integration of storage project activities with rural development efforts
View the document G. Local and International Programming and Training Resources

C. Investigating local storage conditions

The programming of Peace Corps Volunteers into primary or secondary grain storage activities will require some prior investigation into the nature of local storage practices and problems. This activity can rely in part on the experiences and opinions of rural development Volunteers already in the field. However, some time needs to be spent in field investigations in order to gain an understanding of the specific problems Volunteers might address and the activities in which they could be involved.

Full-time (as opposed to part-time) storage programs will require much more investigation and might justify a special programming mission. Appendix A is a report of a recent programming mission for Peace Corps/Costa Rica. This may serve as a model for program development where there is not similar local expertise available for program investigation and planning.

In circumstances where volunteers are to be trained in a variety of rural development areas, much of the actual program development will be done by the individual Volunteers once they arrive on site. The following 11st of questions will be helpful in orienting the programmer, trainer, and Volunteer in identifying what potential there is for change or improvement of local postharvest practices. This list is not all-inclusive but could easily be adapted to a wide variety of climatic, cultural, and agricultural conditions.


(1) What are the methods of storage for the grains grown in your area: are they stored on the head or cob, threshed, or partially threshed; in mud or thatch bins, sacks, or clay jars; near the home, or in the field; in permanent stores or ones rebuilt each year?

(2) Are there different qualities of grain recognized by the farmers? Are they stored separately? Is the lowest quality consumed first or sold first, etc.?

(3) What are the drying practices? How is the harvest date determined? How do farmers know if their grain is dry enough to store? Are heads separated from the stalk at harvest, or dried on the stalk? Are they dried in the field or around the home? Are any measures taken during drying to protect against rodents? Birds? Insects? Do farmers think there are important losses which occur between harvest and storage? If there are differences in local drying practices, how does a farmer choose one method as opposed to another?

(4) Are there differences between present drying and storage practices and older, traditional methods? What are they? Why do farmers think the changes have come about?

(5) What losses, if any, are seen by the farmers and extension agents as being important, e.g., rodents, birds, insects, spillage or transport losses? If possible, rank as to importance for farmer, extension agent. What is your evaluation?

(6) What role do women have in harvesting, drying, and storing grain? Are there tasks performed by women which men are not permitted to do, or vice versa? Do the women think there is a problem of grain loss and why? When, if at all does the grain become he partial or sole responsibility of the women?

(7) What kind of protective measures do farmers use against drying and storage losses, such as mixing sand or local plants with stored grain, smoking it above the cooking fire, re-drying, etc.? Are there any special efforts to keep rats or mice out of the storage container? What about protection from theft?

(8) Do farmers know about modern insecticides for grain storage, if and where they can be purchased, how much they cost? How do they know which insecticides to use on grain and the proper dosages? Are package directions followed?

(9) How do market prices vary to accommodate differences in grain quality? Is grain measured by bulk measure or by weight?

(10) How many types of grain do farmers store? Are they stored separately? whv? Approximately how much was put in storage at harvest this year? Last year?

(11) Do the farmers normally sell any of their grain? Or do they buy and how much? Is there a seasonal price variation? Could anything be done to take fuller advantage of the seasonal price fluctuation to increase farmers' grain sale profits?

(12) Do farmers ever store their grain together? Are there village or cooperative fields, storage or selling practices?

Section Q. Recognizing Storage Problems in the Field, gives some ideas for the use of this survey approach and the kind of conclusions which might be drawn to develop storage methods to ameliorate the problems revealed by the survey.