A grain silo that’s godsend to smallholders

Storing a smallholder’s grain, especially maize, for the family’s consumption, has always been a major challenge, with weevils, rats and all sorts of pests causing untold damage and losses.
Though families have often used different methods to keep their produce safe from pests, for instance, by mixing it with pesticides or using traditional masonry silos and bags made from different materials, these have not always worked well, while the use of chemicals is being discouraged.
The causes of post-harvest losses and food waste, which have become among the hottest topics of discussion today, include poor handling from the farm to storage. Various solutions have been proposed, including the use of metal silos, hermetic bags, and warehouse receipting.
The GranSilo
A key player in the search for solutions is the AquaSanTec Group of companies. It has developed a unique domestic grain silo called GranSilo, made from a high quality rigid food grade polymer, using high-end technologies. It has a capacity of 500 litres, which is enough to store four 90kg bags of maize and most other produce. The silo comes with a lid that provides an air-tight and water-tight fit between the lid and the body. The silo’s maximum width is 84cm, for ease of entry into the house through most doors.
A farmer or other user should first dry the grain adequately, pour it into the silo and clamp it shut for two to three weeks. The air-tight and water-tight sealing ensures that oxygen in the silo is depleted and all pests, including weevils die.
The grain can then be accessed for daily or weekly consumption through an outlet fitting near the bottom of the silo. Produce in the silo cannot be damaged by rats or other rodents and can, therefore, be safely kept at ground level. The silo has a 30-years’ expected lifespan when used indoors, making it the ideal long-term, user-friendly, environmental-friendly and affordable solution for the farmer.
“GranSilo will enable the farmer to reduce post-harvest losses while maintaining the quality and colour of the grain. They will also get better prices by being able to store the grain for longer and selling the surplus when market prices improve,” says Mr Chandu Shah, AquaSantec Group chairman.
“We believe the product, which will sell at about Ksh6,000 plus VAT, will pay for itself within a year for the average farmer. Following approvals by key stakeholders, including the World Food Programme, several thousand GranSilos have been sold in Uganda by our sister company, Crestanks Limited, and demand is picking up as more and more smallholders become aware of this tried and tested solution,” adds Mr Kalpesh Patel, CEO AquaSanTec Group and of Kentainers Limited a group company, the well known manufacturer of Kentank. GranSilo is now expected to be available across the country from Kentainers Limited and also through its channel partners such as agro dealers, producer cooperatives and savings and credit cooperatives (“saccos”).
What stakeholders say
“Storage of food after harvest has been a challenge among smallholders,” says Mr Gerald Masila, executive director Eastern have not been sufficient or suited to smallholders.
“We commend AquaSanTec Group and its companies Kentainers in Kenya and Crestanks in Uganda for responding to the challenge and developing a smallholder grain silo that uses hermetic storage technology,” he told Smart Farmer.
“If one buys two such silos, it allows you to store eight bags of maize comfortably for a household of four for a whole year. EAGC will be happy to present to our members’ food storage solutions and we are happy to partner with Kentainers to promote the solution,” he added.
According to Mr James Mutonyi, managing director of AGMARK, post harvest losses due to poor storage and pests are a setback to the improved smallholder production withnessed in the last 10 years.“With large investments in seed and fertiliser, post-harvest losses reduce the gains made,” he says, adding that though currently an introduction of grain storage bags should definitely curb the losses; the bags have a relatively short lifespan.
“Kentainers’ GranSilo could be a game changer, since it can store more grain – up to 4 bags- and will last a very long time…saving farmers money on the purchase of storage equipment and almost eliminating any grain loss from pests,” adds Mr Mutonyi.
Ms Judith Libaisi, the business development and extension adviser at SNV, says: “This is an innovative product that will assist smallholders to conquer post-harvest losses. It will revolutionise grain storage, which has always been a grave challenge due to the poor quality of storage materials (bags, other silos) used by farmers.” She adds; “The GranSilo design is user-friendly, especially to women and children, as they can easily access or move it. Farmers need not worry about intrusion as the silo can be secured within the home.
Buying the Gransilo is a one-off affordable investment for farmers with a very short payback period.” With the option of financial access brokered by Kentainers and its development partners including the Kenya Biogas Program through financing partners, smallholders can now buy the GranSilo with ease and store their grains far longer after harvest. “GranSilo is truly a great technology,” adds Ms Veronica Ndetu of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“It has all the aspects of a good storage facility. It is air-tight and so it also prevents external contamination or entry of pests. It is also very convenient for small-scale farmers, as they will not be buying gunny bags every season and will not spend labour and money winnowing and re-applying chemicals on their grains every few weeks,” “Compared to the many types of bags, GranSilo helps to retain the colour and quality of the grain for long periods. It is also easy to use for farmers,” says, Mr Maina Muchai, of Farmpro, which serves more than15,000 small-holder farmers.

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