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The Kenyan government has been working in partnership with private sectors to develop new technologies to ensure that farmer’s harvest were well preserved during storage to avert losses.
Hermetic Storage Technology Bags are able to preserve stored grains while restricting the existence of cereal pests by depleting oxygen levels. The air-tight bags prevent air or water from getting into the cereals stored in them.
There are a few manufacturers of certified hermetic technology bags in the country and Mavuno Bora Hermetic storage bag, produced by Packaging Industries Limited (PIL) is unique in that they have developed a plastic liner that is put inside a hermetic bag that is infused with a chemical that repel rodents.
According to Vaishali Malde, the technical sales and Product development manager at Packaging Industries Limited, the Mavuno Bora Hermetic storage bag is designed to create an air-tight environment that preserves the quality and freshness of stored produce.
Innovation, she said plays a crucial role in ensuring the longevity and safety of agricultural produce especially in the ever-evolving landscape of food storage and preservation.
One of the most notable enhancements and the first innovation improvement in the region, to the Mavuno Bora Hermetic storage bag she told KNA is the integration of rodent repulsion technology.
According to Malde, Rodent infestations have long been a challenge in agricultural storage, leading to substantial losses. The innovative version of the bag incorporates non-toxic and non-poisonous food-grade additives that deter rodents from approaching or chewing through the bag’s material.
“The NeXgeN Innovative Mavuno Bora Hermetic Bag has a powerful rodent repulsion technology enhanced with non-toxic and non-poisonous additives and not only enhances the bag’s capabilities but also opens up new horizons in preserving dried agricultural goods, while protecting it from rodents and termites from the outside environment”, she said.
Malde adds that in the past, grain storage bags used to consist of two-liner bags to contain the contents, with an outer sack providing structural support, and although the design was effective in depleting oxygen within the bag during storage, advancements in technology have seen them now integrate a single hermetic liner containing a high-barrier Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH) layer
This advanced liner material; she said, offers several advantages when compared to the conventional storage solutions that have a double liner made of High-density polyethylene (HDPE).
“The EVOH provides superior gas barrier properties 10,000 times better compared to the HDPE, preventing oxygen and moisture from entering the bag and this extends the shelf life of stored produce while eliminating infestation”, she noted
Malde said Hermetic storage relies on airtight conditions to suffocate insects and pests, preventing them from compromising the integrity of stored produce. This method has been pivotal in reducing post-harvest losses while ensuring a chemical-free organic storage solution and ensuring food security in regions with high agricultural output.
To validate the effectiveness of this innovative hermetic storage bag, Malde noted that rigorous testing was conducted on the ground by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO) and the findings and subsequent endorsement have solidified the bag’s reputation as a game-changer in the field of agricultural storage solutions.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO)’s recommendation for adaptation after testing the bags earlier this year, reinforces the potential of this innovation to revolutionize food preservation and storage practices in Kenya and beyond, Walde said .
“As we look towards a future of sustainable and efficient agricultural practices, innovations like these play a pivotal role in ensuring food security and reducing food wastage” said Malde.
Paddy Likhayo from KALRO’s Department of Entomology said their work involves research that tries to prevent pests that will affect the crops while in the field and also in storage.
“We have already verified the new technologies using farmers in Nakuru, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, and in Nandi counties. We supplied them with over 100 bags and about 60 percent of them have shown that they are repelling the rodents and were not damaged, unlike the one the farmers were using. The bags were stored in the stores side by side to show the effects,” he said.
Apart from the rodent-repellent hermetic bags, the PIL company has also specialized bags dubbed “Mama Silage bags “designed for the efficient preservation of animal fodder and which have revolutionized the way Kenyan farmers store and protect their valuable silage crops.
Malde says that with Kenya’s heavy reliance on livestock farming, especially in rural areas, Mama silage bags have played a pivotal role in ensuring that farmers can feed their animals year-round, even during dry seasons when fresh forage is scarce.
“Mama silage bags have not only improved the livelihoods of countless farmers but have also contributed to food security and sustainable agriculture practices in Kenya, making them a symbol of innovation and progress in the country’s agricultural sector”, she said
Kenya loses between 35 to 40 percent of production to insect pests especially in maize at the storage level. Currently, a normal bag that is not repellant to rodents costs between Sh250 to Sh300 depending on the brand. It has a life span of three to four years.
The Rodent repellent bags are available in various agro vet and agro-dealer shops countrywide after the commercial production and sale began in September with a recommended retail price of Ksh.450
Farmers are also encouraged to form groups of 50 people so as to buy a bale together saying by doing so the bags can be delivered directly and also help them cut costs on transportation.
Other private sectors that are certified to sell hermetic bags are Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS), ZeroFly Storage Bags, Elite Storage Bags, GrainPro Storage Bags, and AgroZ Storage Bags.