Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
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Hermetic Bag: A Potential Tool for Strengthening Food Security

Dr. Mohammad Afzal Hossain

Hermetic Bag: A Potential Tool for Strengthening Food Security

Rice production has increased over three folds to 38 million tons compared to double the population 168 m since independence of Bangladesh in the scenarios of higher population growth rate (>1%), higher storage loss (5%) and decreasing of agricultural land by 0.5% per annum. It is achieved with due efforts of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in developing high yielding, stress specific rice varieties and modern production technologies. Public and private sectors can supply 57.2% rice seed of the requirement. The rest of the seed comes from farmers’ own traditional storage i.e. Dole, Gola, Motka, Gunny bag and Plastic bag which are susceptible to insect, mites, rodents, rat, mold etc. In Bangladesh, most of the farm households are using these for their own consumption and seed storage. Hot and humid weather in Bangladesh favors growth of insect, mold highly and caused both qualitative and quantitative losses i.e. mold or insect infested of stored rice due to porous nature of these. Storage loss of rice in Bangladesh is estimated 57, 62, 18, 57 kg/ton in traditional Dole, Motka, Plastic Drum, Plastic Bag which is equivalent to 1140, 1240, 360, 1140 Tk/ton, respectively. Consequences: poor quality seed, lower production, higher storage loss and less food to the table (food availability to the consumer). An estimate showed that 10 percent of the total crop production is lost annually due to the attack of seed-borne diseases in Bangladesh. This loss amount to about 1200 million Taka i.e. over 200 million US$ in terms of money.

Hermetic bag (HB) has emerged as a significant alternative to other methods of storage that protect especially seeds from different infestations and preserve germination of 90% or more for the periods up to 6 months, while conventional storage in jute bags reduces germination down to 14% to 76% within 3 months. Quality seed can increase 15-20% of rice production and nearly 20 lakh tones of additional rice annum. Food security can be strengthened using hermetic bag in rice storage and quality seed production. Hermetic bag indicates the air tight in which neither insects nor air can enter. When it is filled with rice and closed, the oxygen in the store is gradually depleted and the concentration of carbon dioxide increases. No insect or mold can be developed due to absence of oxyzen. If insect presents in the stored rice it dies. This is very convenient since pest control can be achieved without the use of insecticides. It reduces storage loss by 4%. To feed the ever increasing population in the changing environment, boost up of rice production would be a great challenge. Ensuring quality seed supply and storage loss reduction technique to farmers can play vital role in strengthening food security of the country.

In the recent year’s supply of quality rice seed both from public and private sector has shown a very remarkable increase. But, the quantity of supply is insufficient to the total national requirement of quality seeds. Seed supply was mainly constrained by seed processing and preservation facilities. Private sector and NGOs have very limited facilities. Government has paid attention to increase capacity as quickly as possible of BADC. Initiative should also be taken to strengthen seed production and preservation facilities at farmers’ level because requirement-production scenario of fresh rice surplus in Bangladesh is targeted as at least 2.6 MT in 2050. It means this huge quantity of seeds is to be kept ready every year so that it is made available to the farmers so that they can plant it in right time. Otherwise, crop cultivation and production will be less and thereby food security will remain vulnerable. About 40 and 10% farmers are storing rice seed in Aman and Boro season, respectively. Lack of storage facilities and awareness on using quality seed are identified as the main obstacle at farm householders’ in rice production. BRRI, BINA developed rice varieties and Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) are distributing Plastic Drum for seed preservation in limited scale.

In a study of Postharvest Loss Reduction Innovation Lab (PHLIL) - Bangladesh component, HB was distributed at Mymensingh, Netrokona, Bogura, Dinajpur, Jashore and Barishal districts and found more effective in seed storage than that in Plastic Drum. Farmers were highly satisfied observing with amazing seedlings from own kept seed and got 1 ton more yield over collected seed and shown keen interest in seed storage in hermetic (GrainPro and PICS) bag. Small farmers were used to purchase seed from government agencies and private companies. About 95% of them are producing own seed storing in hermetic bag. They are using seed and the extra amount is sold to neighbors at higher price. Storage of seed in hermetic bag is becoming popular among the farmers of PHLIL study areas. Sprouting of seed was more and earlier in HB compared to that of seed purchased from market (Figure 1). Farmers have taken this as income generation activities (IGA). Woman can perform whole rice storing activities in HB independently. In traditional storage system, twice or thrice intermittent drying or cleaning is required which needs labor hire or extra time spent. No intermediate drying or cleaning is required HB rice seed storage system. Tk. 500-600 can be saved storing and selling forty kg rice seed in HB. It can be spent for child caring such treatment, tuition fee, school dress or family festivals using hermetic rice storage. Farmers of the study areas have started seed production and business reliantly as IGA.

To ensure food supply round the years, gain legal price of rice and fulfil seed demand, HB can help the rice householders highly and improve their livelihood. Coordination among the seed producers, increasing accessibility of farmers in seed through modernizing seed producing and marketing system. Government should undertake strengthening program on farmers’ capability improvement in seed production and marketing to ensure quality seed, required quantity of desired variety in right time. If farmers could be empowered in using quality seeds, it could boost rice production significantly. A strong and resilient rice seed sector addressing the specific needs of the poor farmers for timely access to quality seed can strengthen food security and their livelihood. HB would enhance productivity and eventually reduce poverty and thus increase food security in Bangladesh. Moreover, training on HB use, its’ benefit and demonstration on its performance can be undertaken in collaboration with researchers, extension agents and farmers throughout the country for storage loss reduction and increase food availability.

               

The writer is a Senior Scientific Officer, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Gazipur, Bangladesh