RWANDA – Rwanda has embarked on research and investments in crop storage technologies in pursuit of the country’s ambitions to reduce post-harvest losses from the current 16% to 5% by 2024.

As part of the efforts, the country unveiled the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags, a grains storage technology, providing a simple and cost-effective way of storing grains and seeds, reports New Times.

The technology can preserve the grains and cereals for long durations without necessitating the use of chemical preservatives to control storage pests hence contributing significantly to food safety and food security.

According to Gilbert Rwaganje, who is in charge of Harvest Handling at the Ministry of Agriculture, the bags have also been found to have no adverse effects on human health in addition to the non-utilisation of chemicals.

“We urge the factories and businesses distributing those PICS bags to provide instructions to farmers on how to suitably use them while storing the cereals grains.

We urge the farmers to use those bags since they have capacity to preserve grains over long periods of time,” he added.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources has however called for more investments in cereals storage and related technology as part of the efforts provide more efficient and cost effective ways of post-harvest reduction.

“We are conducting a study that could guide us on to subsidizing those bags so that they become affordable to farmers and help tackle post-harvest losses,” Gilbert noted.

Wenceslas Habamungu, the Director General of Ecoplastic Ltd, the manufacturer of the PICS bags, noted that the factory has so far produced over 148,000 bags since 2015 but high cost of production has been a major challenge to their utilisation.

“This production is little compared to the number of farmers in the country.

We need collaboration with other stakeholders to ensure affordability and uptake. So many farmers expect subsidies for the bags become affordable just like they benefit from other subsidized inputs,” he said.

Dieudonne Baribitsa, the project leader -aiming at scaling up the technology in 34 countries including 10 African countries- said that the technology helps to store grains between 3 and 4 years and avoid selling the fresh produce at low prices.

Manufactures and agro-dealers across the country were urged to foster partnerships that will scale-up the use and training on appropriate and safe ways to store grains in order to ensure the sustainability of farmers’ market.