Holding grain in bulk in underground is an age-old method of rural storage. Wheat, rice, sorghum, finger millet, etc., can be stored underground for a period of 2 years. These structures are simple underground dig-outs upto a depth of 5 m varying in sizes to hold from a small quantity upto 50 t. The pits are lined with brick or concrete so that moisture from walls and bottom does not damage the grain.
At the time of filling a layer of straw is placed on all sides. After the pit is filled, straw is spread over the grain and then topped with a layer of soil. Insect infestation is less in the underground storage and it is cheaper over above ground storage structures. This underground structure is not suitable for high rainfall and high water-table areas. Further the grain stored underground has poor appearance and musty smell. Several types of above ground storage structures mentioned below are also in use in our country,
(i) Mud Bins: The mud bins are made of unburnt clay mixed with straw with 1-3 inch thick wall and are oval, rectangular or circular. A small hole is provided at the base for taking out the grain and a larger hole is provided at the top for filling it with grain. Both the inlet and outlet holes are plugged while grain is stored.
(ii) Straw bins: For storing paddy in humid zones, dried plants are used for making temporary structures, which after being filled with grain are further reinforced from outside by winding paddy straw ropes around the whole structure. Each structure holds 2-6 quintals of grain.
(iii) Bukhari bins: This is a cylindrical structure and is made of mud and split bamboo’s. The bin is always placed on a wooden or a massonary plat form to prevent its contact with the ground. The capacity may vary from 3–10 t.
(iv) Kothar type bins: These bins are very much similar to a timber box placed on a raised plat form, which is generally supported on pillars. Both the floor and walls are made of wooden planks, where the tiled or thatched roof is placed over it as a protection against sun and rains. The capacity may vary from 9–35 t.
(v) Metal bins: Bins made of steel, alluminium R.C.C. are used for storage of grains outside the house. These bins are fire and moisture proof. The bins have long durability and produced on commercial scale. The capacity ranges from 1 to 10 t. Silos are huge bins made with either steel, alluminium or concrete. Usually steel and alluminium bins are circular in shape. The capacity of silo ranges from 500 to 4000 t. A silo has facilities for loading and unloading grains.
The storage structures in rural areas are not ideal from scientific-storage point of view, as substantial losses occur during storage of grain from insect pests, moulds, rodents, etc.; keeping the requirements of the farmers in view the Indian grain storage institute (IGSI), Hapur with its branch at Ludhiana and Hyderabad have developed several metal bins of different capacities for scientific storage of grain in rural areas.
Methods of storage
The grains are stored at three different levels, viz., at the producer’s level (rural storage) trader’s level and urban organizational storage. The urban organization uses modern facilities and structures like silos, warehouses and also undertaken periodical inspection, processing and treatment of grains for ensuring their quality during storage.
Generally, there are two ways of storing grains i.e., Storage in bags and loose or bulk storage. In the tropical regions, the grain is stored in bags. Storage in bags requires considerable labour, but the minimum investment is enough on permanent structures and equipment. The storage in bags has the advantage of being short-term storage.
Bag storage can be done under a roof of Galvanized Iron sheets, a plastic covering where grain is intended for very early onward movement. Usually no control measures against insects are needed for short-term storage. If bag storage produce is intended for long time, the control measures have to be taken against insect pests.
The bulk storage has an advantage of greater storage capacity per unit volume of space. Less labour is involved in loading and unloading and there is no need of investment in purchasing gunny bags. In bulk storage the insect infestation is also lower over bag storage. The grain can be kept for several years in bulk storage.
(vi) Parboiling: It is done by soaking the grain in large concrete tanks and steaming it in small kettles or Soaking and steaming grain in large metal tanks with a boiler. The old traditional methods of parboiling incur physical losses and excessive cost of operation. Modern parboiling technologies have been developed and widely accepted by millers with good success leading reduction in losses.
(vii) Milling: Traditional milling equipment has the lowest milling recovery. With modernization of rice milling industry and by replacing hullers with modern mills, the milling losses can be reduced. The qualitative losses like change in colour, odour, vitamins, texture are due to over exposure to sun, fungal growth and insect attack. These losses can also be controlled by proper handling, drying and storage after harvest.
(viii) Marketing: In general most of the producers sell the grains at their door steps in villages, to avoid transport. At village level defective measures and weights are used by traders and also the prices paid to farmers are much lower than regulated market rates. Now-a-days farmers are encouraged to sell their produce in near by regulated markets, though some labour is involved in transport. In regulated markets some amenities are provided for sellers and the growers can secure maximum value for their produce.
In market yards several methods like cover system, open system and auction system are adopted depending on the type of produce sold. Since the rural banking system is improved the farmers to a large extent they are out of clutches of greedy private money lenders who exert pressure to dispose produce for lower price. At present in some places the cold storage facilities are also available. Farmers can utilize these cold storage facilities for stocking their produce on payment of rent and the produce can be disposed when there is remunerative price in the market.
Though several measures are taken by government the marketing of agricultural produce is facing problems and growers are not getting the reasonable price for their produce. If production exceeds demand, price declines until the market is cleared. Prices raise when production fell short. Responses to lower or higher prices occur in the next production cycle. Therefore, the acreage for a particular crop based on demand and the supporting prices for each commodity need to be monitored by the rulers based on demand and supply studies.
The government has to bring buyers and sellers together, develop price information systems, establish consistent grades and product quality standards for better marketing of agricultural produce at all times.
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