Filling sacks with grain or other farm produce



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Content: Before putting grain or produce in a sack, be sure the sack is dry, clean, and free from insects. Also, turn it inside out. If you don’t have extra help to hold the sack open, make a sack holder. It is a simple structure, as easy to make as a high stool. When storing produce in sacks, pile them on slatted platforms for air circulation and protection from rats.

Many people store their grain or other farm produce in sacks, or they put it in sacks before selling it. Perhaps you do this.

Let’s think about this for a few minutes today.

To begin with, it’s a good idea to be sure that the sacks you use are dry, clean, and not infested with insects. They’ve probably already been used for something else, so why not shake them out well, and then turn them inside out? This way, whatever was in them won’t be mixed with what you’re going to put into them. Also, whatever is printed on the outside of the sack, will now be out of sight on the inside.

There’s one very important rule you should follow when putting your produce into sacks that have been used before. If the produce will be used for food for people or animals, use only sacks that have not had chemicals of any kind in them, especially pesticides, or products that had been treated with such dangerous chemicals.

As you know very well, it’s not easy for one person alone to put produce into a sack. It takes a lot of time, and the produce often spills on the ground, perhaps getting dirty or spoiling the quality. Certainly, the job is much easier if you have the help of one or two people to hold the top of the sack open, and high enough so that the bottom just rests on the ground. Often, however, you may not have people to help you when you’re ready to put your rice, maize, cassava, coconuts, or other produce into a sack.

If that’s the case, let me tell you about something that Dan Osei Owusu in Ghana uses for putting farm produce into sacks. He calls it a sack filler, a simple homemade structure that makes the operation faster, saves labour, and avoids stress.

The sack filler may not cost you any money because it’s made of pieces of wood nailed or tied together with cord.

The sack filler looks something like a high stool. Instead of a solid seat to sit on, there’s just an open frame at the top. It’s actually a simple square wooden frame that’s a little bit smaller than the open end of a sack. The four legs are attached to the frame, one at each corner. They’re about 80 centimetres (2 1/2 feet) long. They’re a little wider apart at the bottom than they are at the top. This is so that the structure will be steady and less likely to tip over. Also, the legs are braced at the bottom and part way up with other pieces of wood to make the whole structure sturdy. It can be made of fairly lightweight wood so that it’s easy to lift up and move around.

On the open frame at the top of the structure, in the middle of each of the four sides of the frame, there’s a nail partly hammered into the top of the wood. This way, part of the nails stick out from the wood. And what are these nails for, sticking out like this?

To put a sack in place, ready for filling, Owusu brings the open end of the sack up inside the frame from underneath, and he hooks the top edge of the sack in four places onto the four nails. These four nails are now holding the sack open just like two people would hold it open with their hands.

The sack is now securely in place with its mouth wide open, ready to be filled easily and quickly by one person. If the legs of the sack filler are the right length, the bottom of the sack will be resting on the ground.

After filling the sack with his produce, Owusu unhooks the sack from the four nails in the top of the frame; he makes sure that the sack is firmly standing on the ground and he lifts the sack filler from above, leaving the sack standing there. He then closes up the mouth of the sack and sews or ties it up tightly with a piece of twine.

That’s an easy way for one person to fill a sack without the help of one or two other people. Daniel Owusu suggests you “give it a trial to save labour and conserve your precious energy for the next day’s work.”

Finally, if you store your grain or produce in sacks in a storehouse or shed, here’s one more hint. It’s a good idea to make a slatted platform 10 or 12 centimetres (4 or 5 inches) above the floor and pile the sacks on that. This allows for air circulation around the sacks and also helps to protect your grain or produce from rats. You might even consider separating one layer of sacks from the next above it for the same reason, by using more simple platforms between the layers in the pile.


1. The homemade sack filler was designed by Gershon Fradkin, formerly Chief of Overseas Development Extension for the government of Israel. It is used in Kumasi, Ghana by participant, Dan Osei Owusu.

2. In this item, reference is made to protecting grain and produce in sacks from rats and to storing grain. Other DCFRN items with related information that you may wish to use with this item are:

Rat Prevention – Package 3, Item 3

Storing Grain – Package 4, Item 2

Storing Seed Potatoes – Package 7, Item 1/B

Storing Yams – Package 8, Item 1/B