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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

Part I. Grain storage project programming

A. Grain storage project goals and objectives

Grain storage program conception and objectives will vary from country to country and within each country according to such criteria as the storage needs and problems encountered, the type of local technical support available, whether the is a part- or full-time Volunteer activity, and so forth. However, there are basic objectives which will be present in every grain storage program.

Essentially Volunteers will promote storage methods which:

• Preserve the quantity of the harvest.

• Maintain its quality (food value).

• Result in tine highest possible sale value for whatever grain is sold or traded.

Each of these objectives is compatible with the orders, requiring the same kind of precautions on tee part of the farmer. The farmer's ability and desire to pursue the three objectives will depend or. a variety of factors including cultural influences, labor and cash resources available to allocate to storage, the climatic hospitality of the storage environment, and access to local resources such as insecticides , market transport, market price information, and the like.

The single most common activity of Volunteers in any type of storage project will be in the application and instruction of basic storage principles. Every training effort should include the following basic subject areas:

• Maintenance of storage hygiene.

• Control of grain moisture.

• Specific control of grain pests, i.e., insects, rodents and birds.

Volunteers involved in grain storage projects may work with individual farmers or farm cooperatives, family members responsible for storing grain, rural school students, extension agents, etc. The same basic storage principles and storage objectives will be common to whatever level of involvement Volunteers may pursue,

B. Assessing local interest in postharvest methods improvement

Volunteer involvement in postharvest grain storage projects will often depend on the level of government interest and commitment to this area of development. It has not often been recognized that postharvest problems are within the realm of the agricultural extension service or that reducing postharvest losses is a potential solution to the problem of increasing the food supply. In countries where postharvest concerns are not a high priority, the first task may be to alert government officials to their importance. Lack of interest should not necessarily be assumed to be an accurate indicator of the local importance of grain storage problems.

Some initial areas of investigation to determine government interest include:

(1) Is there a government organization or office specifically devoted to postharvest research. or extension? This role has recently been undertaken by plant protection offices in many agricultural ministries whose principal interests are with preharvest concerns such as in-field plant diseases and in-field bird, rodent, and insect infestations.

(2) Has the government made any efforts in postharvest grain loss reduction through educational programs for insecticide use, storage loss assessment, or improved drying or storage design research?

(3) What is the comparative importance of local development efforts in postharvest versus production areas? (e.g., in terms of budge-, training, personnel, research, etc.)

(4) What training do extension agents receive in grain storage principles, improved drying and storage methods, and insecticide use?

(5) Do civil servants in agricultural extension or research believe that improved grain storage would increase the food supply? Do they feel that storage losses are significant? What do they think can or should be done about the problems?

(6) Is there an annual grain market price fluctuation, notably with high market prices occurring just before each new harvest? How does this affect farmer's storage practices?

(7) Do farmers think that they lose a lot or grain during storage, crying, or transport? Have they tried different ways to reduce the losses? Do they know of ways to reduce the losses?

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.

D. Developing a strategy for volunteer involvement

There are four basic types of Volunteer postharvest project activities regardless of whether the Volunteers are working full or part-time in grain storage.

1. Pre-extension investigation

The Volunteer investigates farmers, storage and drying practices, the variations, innovations, apparent success and shortcomings of each, and farmers' attitudes toward both postharvest losses and innovation. Investigation results will be used to plan storage improvements and extension programs.

2. Pre-extension improved storage method design and trial demonstration

Following the identification of popular storage methods and their apparent advantages and disadvantages, Volunteers begin to: closely observe the Present methods and compare them to performance after a few simple improvements; assess the practicality of new or improved methods of drying and storage, e.g., solar dryers, metal bins, improved cribs, insecticides, etc.

3. General extension

When a specific method drying, storing, or processing has been identified as advantageous in terms of cost, practicality, and farmer acceptance, Volunteers plan and execute program extension involving:

- the development of materials such as posters, radio spots, 'air exhibits, farm-level storage demonstrations

- agricultural extension agent training

- development of materials delivery networks, such as materials transport organizations, insecticide ordering and supply networks, and credit programs for grain bin construction or grain purchase credit.

4. Grain storage and marketing cooperatives

Where there is potential for farmers cooperatives for storing and marketing individually or cooperatively produced grain, Volunteers assist in: warehouse or bin construction, teaching proper bulk storage methods, teaching cooperative members the operation of the storage scheme and purchasing regulations, setting up record keeping systems, and promoting the formation of new storage arc/or marketing cooperatives.

This section includes job descriptions which give examples or these four basic types of storage projects. The activities in these different project types could be carried on simultaneously, evolve during the Volunteer term or service or evolve over the course of several years, depending on the time available for Volunteer involvement, the advancement of host country interest, and the progress of the project.

The Peace Corps/VITA Small Farm Grain Storage Manual, Appendix E, "Working Paper on the Volunteer Role in Grain Storage," presents a practical discussion of problem assessment, storage method trial demonstration, financial considerations for program support, and extension strategies. It provides useful ideas for to programme, trainer, or Volunteer who is developing a postharvest project.

Appendix A is the report of a recent grain storage programing mssisn for Peace Corps/Costa Rica, which may serve as model for similar programming missions elsewhere.


The Volunteer will:

1. Survey storage practices of representative or typical local farmers to determine storage and drying methods.

2. Maintain accurate records of all observations, following the predetermined techniques and format.

3. Investigate the variations in local storage and drying methods.

4. Identify areas of storage loss by interview, obsession, and storage sampling.

5. Identify insect pests and the levels or infestation.

6. Determine cultural influences and labor divisions in grain storage and handling with particular note to the role of women.

7. Identify availability and cost or storage support materials such as insecticides, cement, metal roofing, new and used sacks, tar, etc.

8. Determine average storage capacities and relative proportions or grain for home consumption and marketing.

9. Investigate market price fluctuations and their influence on grain storage and marketing decisions.

10. Identify farmers with interest to experiment with improved storage methods.

11. Plan potential improved storage design trials, comparing improved storage methods to local unimproved methods.


The primary role of Volunteer is to gather quantifiable data on traditional and improved storage methods in order to identify the most appropriate. The Volunteer will:

1. Construct or select for observation five models of each method to be assessed, e.g., basket and above cooking-fire storage; sealed gourd storage; unimproved crib storage; unimproved mud bin storage; crib with improved rat guard and insecticide treatment; and mortar-sealed mud bin storage.

2. Seek out, read, and review available reports from regional storage regear-A and extension projects to assure the use of the most up-to-date information in the design and testing of local storage methods.

3. Use knowledge or storage principles in the design of improved storage structures.

4. Design and construct improved storage bins and dryers and alter existing storage structures.

5. Make regular, periodic observations of the level and type of insect infestation, the moisture content, and the general storage quality including evidence of rodent entry and depredation.

6. Draw samples from storage bins for analysis of typical storage quality.

7. Teach and supervise the application of fumigant and contact insecticides.

8. Discuss with farmers and extension agents their attitudes and perceptions of the storage methods under observation, with particular emphasis on each method's feasibility, cost, practicality, labor requirements, and performance.

9. Keep accurate records of all observations and measurements.


The Volunteer will:

1. Meet with farmers on an individual and group basis to discuss the Possibility of improved storage methods.

2. Teach extension workers and farmers the basic principles of storage, i.e., moisture and pest control and sanitation.

3. Assist farmers in the construction of new bins or dryers or the adaptation of existing storage structures.

4. Select farmers to operate model sires.

5. Organize farmers visits to model storage sites.

6. Closely monitor model sites to assure roper use arc maintenance of storage quality.

7. Develop visual aids and demonstration techniques in local language for use in schools; develop radio spots also in the local language.

8. Develop simple posters to explain proper use of insecticides, weed control around bins, use of rat guards, etc.

9. Give presentations to local school classes in basic storage principles and explain potential improvements over traditional storage methods.

10. Assist in the selection of farmer recipients for storage construction credit funds.


The Volunteer will:

1. Identify existing farmer cooperatives with an interest in and sufficient capital to construct and maintain a storage warehouse.

2. Explain criteria for government or other grain buying credit.

3. Assist in the procurement and organization or transport of necessary construction materials and storage supplies such as metal roofing, cement, gravel, reinforcing rod, moisture meter, scales, burlap bags, and wood for construction of storage pallets.

4. Supervise warehouse construction to assure maintenance of quality standards and proper installation of rat proofing, moisture barriers, loading ramps, and adequate sealing of doors and air vents.

5. Train warehouse and cooperative managers in proper warehousing techniques including record keeping, storage hygiene, insecticide use, bag labeling and sampling techniques , stacking, and inspection.

6. Supervise the organization of market transport schedules.

7. Organize the transport of neighboring farmers to existing cooperative warehouse sites to discuss warehouse operation.

8. Develop simple posters explaining to farmer members the use of scales and credit payment schedules to build a common trust and understanding of the grain purchase and credit payment system.

9. Periodically review proper storage techniques with area warehouse personnel.

10. Periodically inspect the warehouses to insure proper stacking, hygiene, and repair of storage pallets.

11. Insure timely ordering and procurement of insecticide supplies for each storage season.

12. Establish and maintain grain market price records to assist area cooperatives in locating the highest price markets.

E. Determining program support needs

The determination of program support needs, following the procedure set forth in Peace Corps Training Guidelines: The Program and Training Loop and a Systematic Approach to Training, can be broken down to tour steps:

• Fiscal Preconditions , i. e. , finances needed.

• Material Preconditions including whatever supplies, foals, equipment, and materials are necessary for the program.

• Personnel Preconditions including the supervisory, counterpart, and support personnel needed by the Volunteer program.

• Attitudinal Preconditions required in the client population and government support agencies to foster acceptance of program activities and initiatives.

The following preconditions checklist is provided as an example for a grain storage ore-extension program.




1. Gather quantifiable data on traditional and improved storage methods presently in use to identify the most appropriate methods.

1. Access to farmers

2. Farmer interest

3. Portable moisture meter

4. Laboratory master moisture meter *See Section L

5. Portable scale

6. Cooperation of lab personnel

7. Insect identification chart

8. Sample collection bottles

9. Record book and evaluation forms

10. Bicycle or motor bike, access to repairs for transport, host country purchase and maintenance of transport

2. Teach and supervise insecticide application in trial bins .

1. Cooperative extension agents

2. Cooperative farmers

3. Support of Grain Protection Bureau to order and transport insecticides

4. Supply of insecticides

5. Insecticide duster

6. Hand sprayer

7. Burlap bags

8. Posters and instructional materials

3. Construct improved storage bins and solar dryer or trial demonstration.

1. Accessible, cooperative farmers willing to share costs

2. Cement, sand, gravel

3. Plastic sheeting

4. Transport for above

5. Shovel

6. Cement trowel

7. Hammer and nails

8. Wooden cement forms

9. Wood saw

10. Tape measure

F. Integration of storage project activities with rural development efforts

Volunteers may become involved in grain storage projects on an individual or group basis and as a full- or party-time activity. Many full-time projects will probably be initiated as party-time activities through the interest and involvement of individual Volunteers.

The increasing emphasis on programming for "Basic Human. Needs" clearly includes grain storage as a priority area of development. As detailed in other sections of this Handbook, improvement of grain storage practices is one method for increasing the food supply. Increased production is interrelated to and inseparable from it. Therefore, Volunteers working in increased grain or food product on projects should integrate some aspect of grain. storage (whether that be extension, informal fact finding, field trials, extension agent training, etc.) into their work. They could do so during the non-growing season when there is no grain cultivation. In preparation for such work, Volunteers should be adequately exposed to the problems of grain storage in pre- or in-service training. Likewise, Volunteers primarily involved in grain storage might also integrate improved cultivation activities into their work role.

Furthermore, some rural Volunteer teachers could incorporate basic lessons on improved storage into their class presentations, possibly demonstrating with school gardens or fields. Storage activities could then become more full-time during the summer months. General community development Volunteers might begin storage activities by conducting an informal survey of local storage methods, farmers' attitudes, and apparent storage problems and needs. (Ideas for this type of survey are presented in Section C, "Investigating Local Storage Conditions.") The resulting information could be used as a basis for preliminary extension or field trial efforts. It could also be shared with other interested rural Volunteers or become the subject of an in-service session for grain storage training and project development.

G. Local and International Programming and Training Resources

Access to tic-to-date, practical technical information and assistance is vital to the success of Volunteer efforts. Often there are excellent resources available locally with which the Volunteer should become familiar before seeking outside assistance.

Local sources of Information and Technical Expertise include:

• Farmers

• Extension agents

• Extension training centers

• Agricultural research centers

• Voluntary organizations involved in agriculture or nutrition

• Missionaries involved in agriculture

• Agricultural departments of a university or college

• Postharvest or plant protection bureaus

• Local offices of international development organizations such as:

- Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations

- United Nations Development Program

- Bi-lateral aid organizations such as USAID, CIDA, FAC, SIDA, etc.

• The Peace Corps library and files

International sources of Information and Technical Expertise generally require more waiting time and possible communications delays if there is not a local office, but the potential benefits make it well worth the effort. The Volunteer should make requests as specific as possible, giving accurate details of the local conditions and the problem being addressed. International sources include:

1. The Tropical Stored Products Centre

Tropical Products Institute

London Road

Slough SL3 7HL

Berks, England

TSPC is one of the oldest and most respected sources or technical expertise and information on post-harvest issues In the international development community. Technical experts from TSPC are stationed throughout much of the British Commonwealth. Requests for response to technical questions can be made to the above address. In addition, two very useful development-oriented publications a-e available from TSPC with should be subscribed to:

- Tropical Stored Products Information, a bulletin which includes reviews or recent storage developments worldwide and reports of related research and extension work. The cost is 31.25 including mailing . (N.B. There is no charge to official bodies in developing countries.)

- Tropical Storage Abstracts, with selection of recent abstracts relevant to the storage of durable agricultural produce in the tropics. The cost is with £30 including mailing. (Again the e no charge to official bodies in developing countries.) Actual copies of the abstracted articles are not available through. TSPC although names and addresses of the authors are furnished.

Both publications are available on request to:

The Editor, Tropical Stored Products Information



London Road

Slough SL3 7HL

Berks, England

You may also be put on the permanent mailing list upon request.

2. International agricultural research institutes have a variety of resources available, some more involved in postharvest concerns than others. They include:

• IRRI (International Rice Research Institute)

P. O. Box 933

Manila, Philippines

• CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center)

Londres 40,

Mexico 6, D. F.

• ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics)

1-11-256 Bequmpet

Hyderabad 500 016 Andra Pradesh, India

• African Rural Storage Centre

(IITA) International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

PMB 5320 Ibadan, Nigeria

The African Rural Storage Centre has undertaken research and training in small farm grain storage since 1973. Extensive research has been conducted on traditional and modified open storage cribs, and there are ongoing performance trials or various common insecticides. Short two- to ten-day training sessions are regularly conducted for regional agricultural personnel. Several Peace Corps storage training/orientation sessions have been held a. ARSC. Arrangements for housing are available. Technical assistance is available to any African country, with an emphasis on West Africa to the Sahel. A regular newsletter and technical reprints are soon to be available. Information on all research and training is available on request.

3. VITA Volunteers In Technical Assistance) 3706 Rhode Island Avenue Mt. Rainier, Maryland 20822 U.S.A.

VITA has a large number of technical Volunteer experts who respond to requests for technical information by mail. Peace Corps Volunteer requests for assistance should be sent to I.C.E. at the Peace Corps address below.

4. Peace Corps Office of Programming and Training


Peace Corps

806 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D. C. 20525 U.S.A.

This office has available to it specialists in agricultural programming and training who can, if the need warrants, travel on in-country programming missions.

5. L.I.F.E. (League for International Food Education)

1126 - 16th Street, N.W.

Washinston, C. C. 20036


L.I.F.E. specializes in postharvest grain loss assessment and assessment training. It is also involved in supplying Technical expertise in general nutrition-related areas of development.

6. Asian Productivity Organization

Aoyama Dai-ichi Mansions

4-14, Akassaka 8-chome

Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

7. Dr. N. S. Agrawal

Department Director

Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Irrigration

Kirishi Bhavan

New Delhi I, India

Both 6 and 7 above have extensive contact with long-standing, regional improved grain storage research training, and extension programs.