Stored product protection in Africa: Past, present and future
More than 55% of Africans earn their livelihood from agriculture, which is also the key to economic development of the continent. The agriculture is largely traditional and grains constitute the bulk of food production. Sorghum, maize, rice, wheat and millet for cereals and cowpeas, dry beans, groundnut, chickpea and bambara groundnut for pulses, are most common in Africa. Because agricultural production is seasonal while the demands for agricultural commodities are more evenly spread throughout the year, grain storage becomes a particularly important agricultural activity. Grain storage is done on-farm, peasant farmers’ residences (family granaries), community stores and large warehouses. Since most of the grains produced in Africa are destined for human consumption, storage in family granaries predominates. Unfortunately, the technology and management of family granaries and other storage structures are seriously wanting. These predispose the grains to serious attacks from biotic constraints such as insects, rodents, birds and micro-organisms. The rate of insect proliferation in these storage structures could be alarmingly high, especially with the warm climate in tropical Africa. Annual grain losses of up to 50% in cereals and 100% in pulses have been reported, although average losses stand at roughly 20%. Major insects that attack cereals and pulses include grain weevils, grain borers, grain beetles and grain moths. Pest prevention, early detection and pest control would greatly reduce grain losses during storage. Control methods comprise physical, chemical and phytochemical measures with emphasis on the use of traditional botanical pesticides. This paper discusses the major cereals and pulses stored in Africa, the different storage structures, storage losses, constraints, control measures, and the relationship between storage structures and pest infestation. It also attempts to highlight peculiarities to the African storage environment and research trends over the years, and suggests recommendations for improving grain storage in the continent.
Keywords: Stored products, Grains, Pests, Protection, Africa
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