Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS)

The PICS3, the 3rd phase of the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS), is a five-year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org). PICS3 builds on the successes of the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS1) and the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS2) projects. The PICS technology is a cost-effective triple layer hermetic bag that allows farmers to store their grain (maize, sorghum, wheat, rice, peanut, common bean, etc.) without the use of insecticides. Expanding the use of the PICS bags to store other crops will increase benefits of the technology to more smallholder farmers, provide business opportunities for the private sector and reduce seasonality of the market. The use of PICS bags provides farmers the flexibility to sell when they want while supplying healthy, clean and insecticide-free food to their families throughout the year. This will improve market access/income and food security of smallholder farmer families in Sub-Saharan Africa.

PICS3 is expanding the commercialization of PICS technology for storage of several crops with a focus in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. The effort now reaches into other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (and beyond) using leverage support. The goal of the PICS3 project is to increase the use of hermetic storage technologies by 20 percent of grain stored on-farm in target countries. The specific objectives of this project are to:

  • build awareness by training farmers and other stakeholders in 13,000 villages/farmer's groups in the focus countries while linking them to PICS bag vendors;
  • develop a sustainable supply chain by identifying manufacturers and established distribution networks of vendors; and
  • build the capacity of the private sector, local scientists, and extension agents to sustain post-harvest loss (PHL) reduction.

In addition to training, PICS utilizes Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools such as radio, cell phones, and other platforms such as Short Message Service (SMS) to reach farmers. The PICS3 project is working with national and international research/extension organizations and NGOs to disseminate hermetic storage technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Private entrepreneurs including several plastic manufacturers, distributors and vendors are producing and selling the PICS bags to smallholder farmers and other users.

For more information about this project:
Dr. Dieudonné Baributsa
Email: baributs@purdue.edu