Helping African farmers
The integrated approach involves three key technologies: electronic insect traps that allow growers to estimate the number of insects in rice storage silos, aeration or refrigeration of silos to delay insect development, and 'modified atmosphere' with the use of carbon dioxide or nitrogen gas, again to slow down pest development. "The main novelty of this project is that it brings the different technologies together," explains Navarro." And the approach can be used for other grains as well, not just rice, he adds. "The electronic insect traps are our eyes inside the storage silos", he says. He is planning to automate the traps so each time an insect is trapped, the storage manager will be alerted by a text message.
Apart from India, other developing countries that could increase the quality of their rice and reduce losses to pests, such as Argentina, Brazil and Mozambique, are also considering adopting the new system. And Navarro says that the researchers will not stop there, as he is planning to bring the idea of modified atmosphere inside storage units to farmers in Kenya.
The system could eventually help small-scale farmers in Africa get better price for their crops as well. Shlomo Navarro is working with subsistence farmers who consume most of their product themselves, encouraging them to store their excess rice within their community until the price if profitable instead of selling it at the same time immediately after the harvest as everyone else, when the market price is the lowest."
|Contact: Piotr Pogorzelski|