by Iana Mariene A. Silapan
Filipino farmers can now store their rice grains for a longer time with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Super Bag, also known as SuperGrainbag™.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has developed a ‘super bag’ that can extend the shelf life of rice but it can also be used for other dry crops such as corn, coffee and others. With the use of the IRRI Super Bag, the germination or the sprouting of rice grains can be extended from six months up to 12 months.
As stated in IRRI’s website, the use of the super bag can reduce postharvest losses up to 15 percent by maintaining grain quality for a longer period. Relative to the normal storage system which involves the use of sacks, the super bag can control the infestation of rats and insects into the grain without the use of pesticides.
The science behind the Super Bag
According to Engr. Christopher Cabardo, assistant scientist at the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division (CESD), Postharvest Unit of IRRI, the Super Bag uses the hermetic storage system. This means that once the bag is sealed, the flow of water, moisture and oxygen into the grains can be controlled. When properly sealed, farmers can store their grains for up to 12 months without lessening the germination rate of the grains.
Engr. Cabardo said that IRRI came up with the idea of creating the Super Bag in 2004. Originally, the hermetic storage system was for bulk storage from 5 tons up to 300 tons. But with the small farmers in mind, IRRI transformed the technology to fit their needs. IRRI’s postharvest experts collaborated with GrainPro Inc. in developing a super bag with a 50-kilogram capacity for small farmers. GrainPro Inc. is a company involved in agricultural technologies, especially in pre- and post-harvest technologies.
The IRRI Super Bag is made of multi-layer polyethylene plastic material. The bag is also incorporated with a gas barrier layer which controls oxygen and water vapor movement inside. “The sealing of the bag is critical,” said Engr. Cabardo. Retailers of the bag should teach the farmers and customers the proper way of sealing the super bag.
The future for the Super bag
In the Philippines, the IRRI Super Bag or SuperGrainbag™ is now available at Pacifica Agrivet stores nationwide and can be bought for 120 pesos.