5 crucial things farmers should consider while using the Jerrycan bean storage technique

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Post-harvest loss is a huge problem for farmers storing grain for food, sales, or planting. For this reason, Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) offers a solution with the Jerrycan bean storage technique highlighted in an animated video designed to mitigate such challenges. For over ten years, the SAWBO project has worked to create outstanding animations and disseminate meaningful knowledge. The animations are presented in relatable local languages for targeted farmers to pinpoint food security issues

The SAWBO library is packed with over 100 animations in 200+ languages with a staggering viewer base of over 50 million, with 10 million viewers on YouTube alone. You can check out the SAWBO website for more information.

The Feed the Future Scientific Animations Without Borders Responsive Adaptive Participatory Information Dissemination Program or SAWBO RAPID, is a SAWBO project funded with support from USAID and based at Michigan State University and Purdue University in the United States (U.S). SAWBO RAPID develops and shares helpful knowledge to alleviate the detrimental COVID-19-induced secondary economic impacts such as trade and supply chain disruptions.

Photo Credit: Hortfresh Journal

The Jerrycan bean storage technique is an affordable and viable way for farmers to store their grain. The SAWBO RAPID video, entitled “Post Harvest Loss: Jerrycan bean storage”, provides a detailed step-by-step process for storing grain. It is broadcasted in various local dialects including Swahili, Luhya-Kinyala, Kikuyu, Bukusu, Luo, Nandi, and others (complete language listing with links available at end of article).

The technique involves storing beans into an airtight jerrycan for around 6 months to prevent damage caused by insects such as the maize weevils and bean bruchids. The technique cuts down on post-harvest loss and eases things for farmers. In this blog, we will discuss the significance of jerrycan bean storage technique and unravel the crucial things that farmers should keep an eye on while going about it.

⦁ Recommended storage timelines

Timelines are highly essential in the jerrycan bean storage technique. They can make or break things for farmers looking to either store grains for planting, selling, or eating. That said, there are some crucial timelines farmers should keep in mind for effective grain storage. Grains for planting should strictly be stored for no more than 6 months to allow for good germination, while grains stored for food can be kept for as little as a few months or up to a year.

However, once the container is opened, farmers should use the grains as soon as possible — ideally, within a few weeks. Also, farmers should label each jerrycan with the date sealed, as well as the intended use of the seeds to avoid confusion. Notably, to decrease the chances of insect survival, the farmers should avoid opening the jerrycan for at least one month after storage.

⦁ Testing moisture levels using salt

Before packing the seeds in an airtight jerrycan, farmers should first dry the grain in the sun on a dark plastic sheet to lower the moisture content. The farmers need to then sort their grain to get rid of damaged or moldy seeds as well as any other materials. Remember to keep everything as dry as possible. It is also important for farmers to test the moisture content of the seeds using salt to avoid premature germination and the survival of insects. While cereal grains must have a moisture content of 14% or less for safe storage, beans should have a moisture content of 12% or below. Farmers can use salt to figure out if the moisture content of the grain is above or below 15%. Dry salt absorbs moisture from the grain.

To determine the moisture content of beans, farmers need the following:
⦁ Clean and dry 750 ml glass bottle with an airtight cap (if an airtight cap is unavailable, farmers can use a stretched piece of plastic over the opening secured by a rubber band or string to cover the bottle).
⦁ 2 to 3 tablespoons or 20 – 30 grams of table salt.

Farmers should also ensure that the salt is dry. They can accomplish this by placing the salt on a dark plastic sheet and drying it well in the hot sun for 3 to 4 hours and turn the salt while drying it. Then, farmers place between 250 – 300 grams of the grains in the 750 ml container, add 20 – 30 grams of the dried table salt to the bottle, and close it tightly.

Thereafter, they should shake the bottle vigorously for 1 minute and leave the bottle untouched for around 15 minutes. If the salt sticks to the ends of the glass bottle inside, it means that the grain has a high moisture content of above 15% which is unsafe for storage. If that is the case, farmers need to dry the grain further and repeat the process again with new dry salt. The grain is dry enough for storage when the salt does not stick to the bottle.

⦁ Prevention of air supply into the jerrycan

Needless to say, after having filled the jerrycan with beans, farmers should remember to shake the jerrycan side to side and pour more beans into the container if some space is left to get rid of all the air inside. The lack of air will kill the insects. Also, it is important to note that if there is any new air supply into the jerrycan, the eggs that the insects laid may hatch. Therefore, farmers should remember to cover the jerrycan top with a soft piece of plastic bag to avoid the entry of air and moisture and prevent insect damage.

⦁ Jerrycan cleanliness

Farmers should store beans in clean, dry jerrycans for safety reasons. More importantly, they have to ensure that the selected jerrycans have never stored dangerous contaminants such as fuels and pesticides which can detrimentally harm human health.

⦁ Ideal jerrycan sizes

The jerrycan sizes that farmers select are also of great importance. While the jerrycan size should be at least 5 liters, the generally recommended sizes should range between 10 to 20 liters to optimally accommodate as many seeds as possible. In the absence of a jerrycan, farmers can pack the seeds in any other appropriate dry container of a similar size. In such a case, farmers should ensure that the beans are tightly packed into the container.

Final thoughts

The jerrycan bean storage technique offers much in the way of grain storage. In that sense, to prevent post-harvest loss, farmers should keep a close eye on these crucial things while going about the process. This hugely prevents insect damage and eases things for them.

The animation for the SAWBO RAPID jerrycan bean storage is available in 36 languages. Please watch, download and share this video by sharing the link on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Postharvest Loss: Jerrycan Bean Storage

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SAWBO RAPID is funded through a grant from Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. This blog article was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the terms of agreement no. 7200AA20LA00002. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International development or the U.S. government.

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