Indigenous practices are the practices that emerge from the cultural contact of the people concerned, evolve in close contact with specific environmental conditions, and are based on traditional societies’ intimate knowledge of their environment. Through trial and error methods, a number of traditional practices have been evolving to avoid a huge loss that is occurring in stored grains/seeds due to insect and pest infestation. They evolved within the community and passed on from one generation to another. Storage of seeds/grains in a proper way is necessary to prevent them from spoilage, increase their keeping quality, and for monetary reasons. At the home level, storage of seeds is done in indigenous structures ranging from bamboo baskets to mud structures, gunny bags, and modern bins.
Indigenous and traditional practices being followed by farmers for storing grains and seeds are given below:
- Granary rooms for paddy storage
The granary rooms are constructed with perfect planning during the construction of the house itself. The floor of this granary room is made of wooden boards while its sides have brick and cement walls. It contains an opening or a net-protected door-like structure for ventilation. Grains are spread on wooden platforms and stored.
- Maize storage bins
Traditional methods of maize drying/storage include sun drying, outdoor raised open bamboo structure (Thankuro/Suli); indoor natural aerated bamboo structure (Meera); hanging on ropes, and placing above the kitchen.
It is a square-shaped structure constructed with mud and bamboo. It is used for the storage of sorghum, wheat, paddy, maize, etc. Grains are kept in bulk inside this structure and the upper portion is plastered with mud. It is then covered with polythene sheets to prevent moisture loss.
- Storage of seeds with lime
Traditionally, pulse grains are stored along with the lime powder. A dusting of about 10 gm of lime per kg of grains is done and it is stored in jute gunny bags. The irritating aroma of lime repulses insects and thus prevents the grains from damage. This way grains can be stored for even one year.
- Storage of grains using camphor
About 1 gm of camphor piece per 5 Kg of grains is placed in the jute gunny bags. Strong odor emerged from camphor repels the storage pests. With this method, short-term storage of grains for up to 3 months is possible and after that, grains are sun-dried and again placed with fresh camphor pieces for subsequent storage.
- Cow dung in vegetable seed storage
Plate-like round-shaped structures are made from fresh cow dung which is known as Varatis. Vegetable seeds such as ash gourd (Benincasa hispida), bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), etc. are inserted in the cow dung and then are dried under the sun for 2-3 days. After the seeds get stuck onto the Baratos, these are stored inside wooden boxes. This way seeds are stored even up to one year.
- Neem oil in seed storage
Neem oil acts as a repellent against several insects such as weevils, red flour beetles, long-headed flour beetles, and fig moths. 20 ml of neem oil is used for 1 Kg of pulses. Neem oil is applied manually over the seeds to coat them uniformly.
- Ash seed treatment in sorghum
Sorghum seeds are mixed with ash in a ratio of 1:4. The seeds are then packed airtight in the jute gunny bags. With this technique, the sorghum seeds can be stored for 6 months without any storage pest problems.
- Neem leaves against storage pests
A wide range of storage pests, viz. pulse beetles, grain borers are found to be attracted by both pulses and oilseeds. Hence, the indigenous method of keeping Neem (Azadirachta indica) leaves and the stored grains is practiced in gunny bags to overcome the problem. This way, storage pests are repelled effectively and grains can be stored for up to one year.
- Red gram storage with common salt
About 200 grams of salt is mixed with a kg of red gram grains manually. These treated grains are stored in jute gunny bags and then the bags are stitched. This practice keeps away the insects from the stored grains. Farmers believe that, with this practice, red gram grains can be stored for a short-term duration of 6-8 months.
For a safe and steady supply of high-quality food, the protection of stored agricultural products against insect attacks is essential. In the past, traditional varieties were cultivated which, although low yielding, were generally more resistant to attack by pests, and insect infestation was often a less serious problem. These days the introduction of high-yielding varieties has resulted in increased storage losses as these varieties are highly susceptible to insect damage. Therefore, storage of grains and seeds without pest infestation is essential. Indigenous practices have advantages over outside knowledge, have little and no cost, and are readily available.