Here’s an easy way to protect stored grain from insects such as weevils. This method is popular with farmers in the state of Bendel, in northern Nigeria.
After you harvest your grains, dry them thoroughly. The grains should be dry enough so that when you bite them, they make a sharp cracking sound. If they don’t make that sound, let them dry longer. It is very important that they are completely dry before you store them.
If they are not dry, they will spoil in storage.
When the grains are dry, put them in a clay pot. Add a handful of ground hot peppers. Mix the ground peppers and seeds together thoroughly. Next, seal the mouth of the jar with mud.
Make sure the mud is thick enough to stop air from getting into the jar _ the jar must be completely airtight when the mud dries. This is very important. If the jar is not airtight, insects can get inside.
Weevils and some other insects will turn away from the smell of hot peppers, and will not attack your stored grains. Using peppers will keep weevils away for up to six months. The seeds are not harmed in any way by being stored with hot peppers. When you need them, you can plant your seeds, or cook and eat them without further processing.
- This script was written by Peter B. Afekoro, Subject Matter Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria.
There are other materials that are commonly used to protect grain in storage. Some examples are wood ash, neem (Azadirachta indica), sweet flat (Acorus calamus), and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.). Sometimes airtight storage alone is effective. Farmers should be encouraged to do their own research and determine which methods are most effective for them.
The following publications contain information about protecting stored grain.
- Natural pest and disease control, Henry Elwell and Anita Maas, 1995. Natural Farming Network, P.O. Box 301, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe.
- Storage, Food Cycle Technology Source Book No. 8, 1993. United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), 304 East 45th Street, New York, NY 10017, U.S.A.
- A review of plant materials used for controlling insect pests of stored products, M.J. Dales, NRI Bulletin 65, 1996. Natural Resources Institute, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.
- Potential for using indigenous plant-derived products as protectants against insect pests of stored grain on small farms in Africa, Tierto Niber Baba, 1994. Department of Applied Zoology, PL27, FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland.