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In India, about 70% of farm produce is stored by farmers for their own consumption. Farmers store grain in bulk, using different types of storage structures made from locally available materials. The pre-treatment necessary for better storage life is cleaning and drying of the grain, but storage structure design and its construction also play a vital role in reducing or increasing the losses during storage. Storage losses constitute a major share of food grain loss in postproduction operations.

When scientifically constructed storage structures are available, it is essential that the grain being loaded is of good quality. Therefore, the grain is cleaned to remove impurities, fungus infestation, and rotten seeds, and then dried to a safe storage moisture level. The present trend is to harvest the crop at a high moisture content. Therefore, grain moisture is generally twice the safe limit at the time of harvesting. Oilseeds and vegetable seeds are harvested at 3-7 times higher moisture than their safe storage moisture content. The safe storage moisture limits for major food grains are given in Table 1.

Table 1. Upper limit of grain moisture content for safe storage.
Commodity Moisture content (% wet basis)
Paddy, rice (raw) 14
Rice (Parboiled) 15
Wheat Kabuligrun, Bengal gram 12
Sorghum, maize, barley, ragi, bajra, pulse, turmeric, wheat atta maida besan 12.5
Coriander, chillies 10
Groundnut pods 6-7
Mustard seed 5-6
Source: Agricultural Engineering Directory, 1983.
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