In the past couple of years, the problem of insufficient facilities for storage of foodgrains in India has attracted a lot of public attention. Though news reports showing tonnes of wheat rotting away in the open even as millions go to bed hungry were successful in creating a furore in the parliament, nothing much has been done yet in this regard.
It is estimated that 63 million tonnes of food grains are procured by the government for PDS, of which 28 millions tons are stored in the open which results in huge wastage and losses of about Rs. 60,000 crore. A scientific storage needs to be adopted and implemented immediately for storing all the food grain that is stored in open, as well as capture further bumper crops and harvests to enable availability of food grains for all.
Two companies in India seem to have taken this problem very seriously, and thankfully have come up with an innovative solution. Panama Agritech and Silobag India use “Silo Bags” to store huge quantities of grains. Silo bags are a type of polythene bags with three layers. The first two layers are white in color to filter UV rays and make the bag weatherproof . The third layer is black to keep out sunlight.
The technology was first developed in Argentina and has since, proved successful in 32countries over the past 12 years. The basic principle is to keep the grain in a modified atmosphere, low in oxygen and with a high concentration of carbondioxide (CO2).
Once filled the bag is sealed, the conditions within the bag thereafter control breeding vermin, insects and fungi, hence there is no need of any fumigation. Bags are stored on fields with sufficient drainage and space. All fields are scaled, cleaned and cleared of grass, weeds and rocks thus creating the ideal ground conditions for laying out bags.
Each Bag can hold upto 200 tons of wheat and approx. 10 bags can be stored per acre. Once filled up and sealed, the bags can be left on flat and open land for 18-24 months.
Madhya Pradesh government has been using silo bags since almost a year and is the first in India to enforce this innovative technique for checking the criminal wastage of foodgrains. Few private agro companies in Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan have also started using silo bags for storage.