Choosing the Right Maize Bag Size and Material

The Benefits of Using Biodegradable Agriculture Bags for a Greener Future
The Benefits of Using Biodegradable Agriculture Bags for a Greener Future
May 23, 2024
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Choosing the Right Maize Bag Size and Material for Storage

Throughout the history of grain production, farmers have tirelessly explored various grain storage bags and methods in their quest to discover the most effective solutions for preserving their precious grains. Efficient storage is a must, particularly in Southern Africa, where maize is a fundamental crop. Choosing the appropriate size and material for maize bags can greatly minimise post-harvest losses, which are mainly caused by insect pests and moisture.

Insect pests are a major cause of post-harvest losses in grains during storage on a global scale. Grain damage leads to a decrease in weight, nutritional value, and market value. This unfortunate situation results in significant losses for farmers. When insect parts and faecal matter are present, it can cause the grains to develop mould and unpleasant odours, which ultimately leads to contamination and deterioration. At a certain threshold, the presence of insects makes grains unfit for consumption by both humans and animals. In addition, excessive moisture can also result in the growth of mould, which can cause further damage to grains during storage.

Trunel Bags is a leading supplier of produce bags. We also offer polypropylene grain bags as well as maize meal bags for sale.

Choosing the Right Maize Bag Size and Material

Different Storage Methods

Grains in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, are commonly stored in a variety of grain storage bags. There are three primary types of bags commonly used for grain storage: jute bags, polypropylene (PP) bags, and hermetic storage bags.

Jute Bags: Historical Workhorse

Jute bags have stood the test of time as a reliable method for storing grains, with a history spanning several centuries. These bags are crafted from the bark of the jute plant, which makes them biodegradable and environmentally conscious. They are generally affordable and easily accessible. Unfortunately, jute bags are quite vulnerable to water and tend to weaken rapidly upon exposure to moisture. The porous and fibrous nature of these materials also makes them susceptible to the infiltration of air, moisture, microorganisms, and pests such as weevils, which can have a significant impact on the contents. Jute bags are not ideal for long-term storage.

Hermetic Storage Bags: New but Expensive

Although not as commonly used as polypropylene (PP) bags or jute bags, hermetic bags are becoming increasingly popular as a secure storage solution for grains in sub-Saharan Africa. These bags function by creating an airtight seal around the stored grain, effectively protecting it from the external atmosphere. The bag blocks moisture and oxygen from entering from the outside air.

The presence of insects within the grain leads to an ongoing respiration process, resulting in an increase in carbon dioxide levels and a decrease in oxygen levels. When oxygen levels are low, insect activity stops, which helps to prevent any additional damage to the grains. For added protection, certain hermetic bags are equipped with an additional layer, typically a PP bag, to safeguard the hermetic liner from potential damage.

Hermetic bags have numerous advantages, such as safeguarding against insects and moisture, which makes them perfect for extended storage. These products are highly resilient and can be used repeatedly as long as the airtight seal is maintained. Nevertheless, hermetic bags have a few disadvantages, such as a higher price point in comparison to other bag options, which could potentially deter certain farmers. In addition, if the bag gets punctured, its ability to remain airtight may be affected.

Polypropylene Bags: Reliable and Cost-Effective

Polypropylene bags are commonly used as a storage solution in sub-Saharan Africa. These bags, made from woven strips of polypropylene, offer a variety of advantages that have made them a popular choice among farmers.

Benefits:

  • Cost-effectiveness: PP bags are affordable, allowing farmers of all scales to access them.
  • These bags are designed to be highly durable, able to withstand rough handling without tearing.
  • Effortless and Convenient: PP bags offer a lightweight and manageable solution, making transportation and storage a breeze for farmers.
  • Variety: They are available in a range of sizes to accommodate various storage requirements and capacities.
  • When it comes to storing grains that will be sold or used within a few months, PP bags are a reliable choice for ensuring efficient short-term storage.

Disadvantages:

  • When it comes to protecting against pests and moisture, hermetic bags outperform PP bags. While PP bags do offer some level of protection, they are not as effective in preventing infestations and moisture from getting in.

Why Polypropylene Bags Remain the Top Choice

Many farmers in Southern Africa prefer polypropylene bags because they are affordable, durable, and practical.

Affordability: PP bags are much more cost-effective compared to hermetic bags, which makes them a viable option for farmers with limited resources or operating on a smaller scale.

Availability: PP bags can be easily found throughout Southern Africa. This level of accessibility guarantees that farmers have no trouble buying and replacing bags whenever necessary, without having to deal with any supply chain problems that could impact more specialised storage options.

Flexibility: PP bags are available in a wide range of sizes, providing farmers with the option to select the ideal capacity for their storage requirements. Whether a farmer needs to store a small amount of maize or a large harvest, there is a suitable PP bag for the task.

Convenience: PP bags are designed to be lightweight and durable, making them easy to handle, transport, and store. This practicality is particularly crucial in rural areas where infrastructure and transportation options may be limited.

Short-Term Storage Solution: For farmers who don’t require extended storage, PP bags offer a practical solution for safeguarding maize until it’s ready for sale or consumption. They provide sufficient protection against pests and environmental factors for brief periods, which helps to minimize immediate post-harvest losses.

Enhanced Designs: Recent developments in PP bag designs have brought about various improvements, including anti-slip coatings, UV protection, and enhanced sealing options. These enhancements have significantly improved the functionality and performance of the bags.


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