Across the tropics and subtropics more than half of the population lives in rural areas. Most of these people depend solely on farming for their livelihoods. Nowadays, few farmers can be regarded as living truly at subsistence level, i.e. producing only enough food for their families and for seed. Most farmers now produce at least a small surplus for sale; the money obtained being used to improve their standard of living. The level of income depends not only on the quantity of crop sold but also on its quality. Hence, it is essential that farmers keep their crops in the best possible condition until they are sold.
Storage of produce is an equally important task as harvesting because if the produce is not stored properly using appropriate measures it may get spoilt or attacked by insects or rats or micro organisms. Farmers with large holdings of land have to store very large quantities of harvested crop. Thus these farmers particularly have to be aware about these common storage precautions. They are :-
Mature grains, nuts, roots, and tubers have a period after harvest when they do not sprout and can easily be stored with the simplest of technologies and protective structures. More perishable foods (meat, fruits, and vegetables) were sliced into thin sections and dried or smoked, or pickled in brine. Some of these techniques, such as sun drying , smoking and pickling are still used today. Another method for storage is canning. Canned food has avery long storage life, especially when stored under lowtemperatures. Like canning, many storage technologies suchas fermentation can also be used . Large scale storage of grains are done in granaries or silos .
Neem is used for storage of grains as a pesticide.SimilarlyWalnut, Bhera and Mint leaves also possess certainantimicrobial or pesticidal properties, which help in grainstorage.The turmeric powder also appears to perform a similarfunction.The freshly harvested crop contains a lot of moisture. Thereforethe crop should be dried before storing to prevent them frombeing attacked by micro organisms. They are dried either in thetraditional way or by a machine called seed drier.
Grains can also be stored in jute bags or metallic bins. Metal storage bins are made from smooth or corrugated galvanized metal sheets. Most bins used for small-scale storage . The bin usually has a filling hatch through which grains are loaded and an emptying spout through which they can be emptied . Metal bins can provide maximum protection and security if padlocks are fitted to the filling hatch and emptying spout.
The process of fumigation is also done before storage. It kills insects living inside the grains with the help of phosphine gas. Small-scale fumigation can be carried out under gas-tight covers such as thick polythene sheets, or in containers that can be easily sealed. Grains are also sprayed with insecticides or pesticides before storage to prevent insect or pest attacks.