Kopernik addresses a common challenge faced by smallholder farmers in East Flores, Indonesia.To better protect their produce, Kopernik tested alternative storage methods for sorghum to prevent unnecessary and income-affecting infestation from weevils.
Around 78 million Indonesians are smallholder farmers (they own less than 0.5 ha of land), accounting for roughly 30% of the population. These farmers produce a myriad of crops, such as rice, cassava, maize, sorghum, coconut, cashews, cacao, coffee, candlenut, banana, mango and pineapple. In the case of several of these agricultural crops, Indonesia is among the top ten producers globally.
Despite this, smallholder farmers in Indonesia earn little income for their produce and are generally poorer than the rest of the population. Farmers often don’t have access to the technology that can help correctly store their produce or process their crops to sell at a higher price. Additionally, farmers are faced with challenges such as changing weather patterns, poor access to technology (that can assist with storage or processing crops to add value), low knowledge about finding new markets, or difficulties managing rodents and pests.
In the eastern part of Indonesia, weevil infestation accounts for a large portion of post-harvest grain losses. The insects are especially harmful for the country’s indigenous crop, sorghum, due to the warm and humid conditions in which this crop thrives. Most farmers store sorghum for up to 12 months before consumption, shipping or selling, during which time the produce is susceptible to infestation. One expert estimated that up to 70% of sorghum stored in the traditional manner is damaged by weevils during this time. Kopernik saw an opportunity to find working solutions to this problem through a series of small-scale experimentation projects.
Kopernik is working with farmers in Adonara, East Flores to test several simple storage solutions. Given the extensive research available about the effectiveness of hermetic storage, we tested two simple hermetic methods for sorghum storage, alongside the commonly used traditional method. We stored 25 kg of newly harvested and dried sorghum in each of the three different containers: a traditional woven plastic sack (current method), a hermetic plastic bag placed inside the traditional woven plastic sack, and a hermetically-sealed plastic drum. Over a six-month period, we monitored the number of weevils-dead or alive- in each container, along with performing general moisture and weight checks.
This project is managed by Kopernik Solutions and implemented by PT Kopernik on behalf of our client.