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From: Valuing food – Footsteps 94

Different ways to safely store and preserve food, making the most of the food we have and reducing waste

We asked Footsteps readers and friends for their top food storage tips and here are some of their answers…

Storing tubers for seed
Petros, Mozambique

A basic process for storing tubers as seeds (eg potatoes, yams):

Storing cowpea grain picture

Storing cowpea grain
Kene Onukwube, Nigeria

Storing cowpea grain (commonly referred to locally as beans):

Many farmers testify that they have been able to save several kilograms of grain or seeds using this method, with less than 10 per cent being lost. This loss is usually caused by incorrect tightening of the plastic container or broken containers.

Tea, coffee and pepper 

Stephen, Nigeria

To prevent pests from spoiling your beans you can sprinkle used tea leaves or coffee grounds around your plants to repel the pests. If you are trying to store your crop (eg beans) you can sprinkle ground pepper on them and put them in empty jerry cans. Close the cans firmly and the beans can be stored for a long time!

Using neem
Willem, northern Uganda 

Farmers here often mix neem leaves with grain before storing it for several months. Neem leaves, oil or extract act as a repellent against insects such as weevils, flour beetles, bean-seed beetles and potato moths. Treating jute sacks with neem oil prevents the pest from entering your grain. Neem oil destroys bean-seed beetles at the egg stage.

Also, if you mix neem leaves with clay and cow dung you can make storage containers for grain which are pest-resistant.

[Editor – Bean-seed beetles are part of a family of small beetles called bruchids which mostly attack legumes.]

More on storage

Footsteps 32: Food security and PILLARS: Improving Food Security feature useful advice on food storage. 

Farm Radio International has produced a number of radio scripts that share information about storage.
Visit to find out more. Package 66 on avoiding farm losses by improving storage methods, Package 79 on post-harvest and Package 90 on farmer innovation are particularly relevant.

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