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Agriculture

Ministry issues guidelines for post-harvest handling of grains

Agriculture minister, Vincent Ssempijja takes guests and agriculturalists on a tour of a maize plantations recently (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has issued guidelines for post-harvest handling of grains to ensure food and nutrition security of all Ugandans and to promote increased incomes of Households.

Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, said the purpose is to help reduce grain post-harvest losses as one of the key avenues for increasing food availability, reducing pressure on natural resources, eliminating hunger and improving farmers livelihoods.

He explained that the ministry has written a precise advisory message on post-harvest handling of grains in Uganda to all districts across the country.

“And the purpose of this message which targets all grain actors-farmers; Traders, Transporters, processors and Consumers, is to reduce losses of grains along the supply chain,” said Mr Ssempijja in a notice written to all Chief administrative officers in the country.

He explained that the specific objectives of the advisory include; to increase the volumes of grains for human, livestock consumption and marketing, improve the quality and safety of grains for human, livestock consumption and marketing and to improve the shelf-life of grains marketed locally, regionally and internationally.

He said the ministry has given out a circular to be used by the production staff in the districts and sub-counties, front-line extension staff, all grain actors in your district and leaders at all levels.

“And I request you to prepare and develop an appropriate Ordinance and By-laws on grain post-harvest handling in your district and sub-counties, respectively, using the provided message. General drafts will be sent to you for adaptation under a separate cover,” Mr Ssempijja added.

GUIDE FOR POST-HARVEST HANDLING OF GRAINS

MAIZE

  1. Harvest maize when it is properly dry. That is, only when the stalks and collar sheath have turned brown and the cobs are hanging downwards. At this stage, the moisture content will be between 17-20%.
  2. During harvesting, use clean and dry harvesting tools and equipment such as carts, wheelbarrows, bags and baskets.
  3. Prepare clean, dry storage facility for the maize before shelling, for the case of small-scale farmers who don’t use modern harvesting equipment.
  4. Deliver harvested maize immediately to clean and dry equipment for temporary storage before shelling.

Sorting, Shelling, Winnowing and Grading

  1. Sort out maize cobs infested by insects, discoloured grains, moulded or physically damaged from good maize.

Shelling

  • Shell maize using bare hands or proper equipment such as manual hand shellers or motorized shellers. Avoid shelling maize through beating with sticks as this method damages the grains.

Drying

  • Dry grains on a clean concrete slab, or use plastic sheets or tarpaulins.
  • Farmers should avoid drying maize on a bare ground as this will contaminate the grains with soils or dirt and further allow fungal or mould growth.
  • Dry maize under open sunshine, maize cribs or any appropriate drying facility up to a moisture content of 13-14%.
  • Moisture content can be measured using a moisture meter.

However, for small-scale farmers moisture content can be determined using the following procedures;

  • Get a dry transparent glass bottle
  • Place half a bottle full of dry maize grains
  • Put one spoon full of table salt
  • Shake well the mixture of salt and grains
  • Take an observation of the bottle
  • If the salt sticks onto the inner walls of the glass bottle, it confirms that the maize grains are not fully dried to the required moisture content.
  • However, if the salt does not stick onto the inner walls of the glass bottle then it confirms that the maize grains are fully dried to the required moisture content.

Winnowing

Sort, sieve or winnow maize grains to get rid of foreign matter and broken grains.

Grading

  • Separate maize grains according to the size, colour and or uniformity
  • Pack or bag the same sized and or uniform coloured grains in the same bags or store

Storage

  • Clean the storage facility properly before storage

A good storage facility should have the following;

  • It should be easy to clean
  • It should provide protection from rodents, birds and other animals
  • It should be waterproof and moisture proof
  • It should be well aerated
  • It should protect the grains against variations of temperature and humidity
  • It should have provision for periodical inspection where appropriate
  • It should have provision for application of pesticides or fumigation where appropriate
  • It should be located away from possible sources of contamination such as animal and human waste, kilns, flour mills, and bone-crushing mills, garbage rumps, tanneries, slaughterhouses and chemical industries

Other storage technologies that can be used include;

Hermetic bags

  • The maize grains can be properly packaged in 80-100kg hermetic (Airtight) bags and stored under vermin proof facility
  • Place bags on pallets above the floor to avoid cold moist conditions that may lead to moulds growth.

Use of SMART metallic silos

Metal silos can also be used to store maize for a longer period of time (Six months and more).

Control of Storage Pests

(i) Dry the maize properly up to 13.5% moisture content

(ii) Store in rodent or virmin proof storage facilities, or hermetic bags or SMART metallic silos

(iii) Use modified environment (Carbon dioxide and heat)

(iv) Use fumigants such as (Aluminium Phosphide)

RICE

Harvesting

(i) Harvest rice at the right maturity time that is when the rice straws have turned brown and at least 80-85% of the grains have hardened and ripened

(ii) The best time, therefore, is when the rice grains feels firm between the teeth

Handling of the harvested rice

(i) Collect the harvested rice and spread it on a tarpaulin or mat to avoid grain loss and contamination with soil, mud or stones

(ii) Thresh the rice immediately after harvesting, using hands or machines

(iii) Never heap harvested rice on straws in large mounds. This will cause heat build-up, cracking and mould growth.

Drying

(i) Dry rice grains immediately after threshing to a moisture content of 11-12%

Proper Storage and packaging is key to maintaining the quality of grain to attract better prices on the international market (FILE PHOTO)

Storage

(i) Clean the storage facility properly before storage

(ii) A good storage facility should have the following;

(a) It should be easy to clean

(b) It should provide protection from rodents, birds and other animals

(c) It should be waterproof and moisture proof

(d) It should be well aerated

(e) It should protect the grains against variations of temperature and humidity

(f) It should have provision for periodical inspection where appropriate

(g) It should have provision for application of pesticides or fumigation where appropriate

(h) It should be located away from possible sources of contamination such as animal and human wastes, kilns, flour mills, and bone-crushing mills, garbage rumps, tanneries, slaughterhouses and chemical industries.

Other storage technologies that can be used include;

(a) Use of hermetic bags

(i) The rice grains can be properly packaged in 80-100kgs hermetic (Airtight) bags stored under a vermin proof facility

(j) Place bags on pallets above the floor to avoid cold moist conditions that may lead to moulds growth

(b) Use of SMART metallic Silos

(i) Metal silos can be used to store rice grains for a longer period of time (Six months and more)

Management of storage pests

(i) Dry rice grains properly up to 11-12% moisture content

(ii) Store in rodent or vermin proof storage facilities or hermetic bags or SMART metallic silos

(iii) Use modified environment (Carbon dioxide and heat)

(iv) Use fumigants such as (Aluminium Phosphide)

BEANS

Harvesting

(i) Harvest beans at the right time when the pods are dry and hard

(ii) Avoid harvesting beans when it is too mature or when the pods split open and shatter

(iii) Harvesting should be done early in morning hours to avoid pods opening and or shattering

(iv) Climbing beans are harvested pod by pod as they grow upwards

Threshing

(i) Thresh beans using or machine on tarpaulins or dry concrete floor

(ii) It is advisable to thresh beans at a moisture content of about 14-15%. This is a point when beans pods are completely dry and easily open when threshed.

Cleaning and Grading

(i) After winnowing, bean grains are sorted to remove foreign materials such as stones, cuff and animal wastes

(ii) The grains may also be separated by variety, or colour and size depending on the grade (Grade 1,2 and 3)

Drying

(i) Dry bean grains to a moisture content 12-13%

(ii) Drying of grains should be done on concrete floors, plastic sheets or tarpaulins or mats, to avoid contact with soil or moisture gain

Packaging and storage

(i) Clean the storage facility properly before storage

(ii) A good storage facility should have the following;

(a) It should be easy to clean

(b) It should provide protection from rodents, birds and other animals

(c) It should be waterproof and moisture proof

(d) It should be well aerated

(e) It should protect the grains against variations of temperature and humidity

(f) It should have provision for periodical inspection where appropriate

(g) It should have provision for application of pesticides or fumigation where appropriate

(h) It should be located away from possible sources of contamination such as animal and human waste, kilns, flour mills, and bone-crushing mills, garbage rumps, tanneries, slaughterhouses and chemical industries

Other storage technologies that can be used include;

(a) Use of hermetic bags

(i) The bean grains can be properly packaged in 80-100kgs hermetic (Airtight) bags stored under a vermin proof facility

(i) Place bags on pallets above the floor to avoid cold moist conditions that may lead to moulds growth

(b) Use of SMART metallic Silos

(i) Metal silos can be used to store rice grains for a longer period of time (Six months and more)

Management of storage pests

(i) Dry rice grains properly up to 11-12% moisture content

(ii) Store in rodent or vermin proof storage facilities or hermetic bags or SMART metallic silos

(iii) Use modified environment (Carbon dioxide and heat)

(iii) Use fumigants such as (Aluminium Phosphide)

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