Insect-related grain loss is a significant problem in Uganda and other countries in Sub Saharan Africa. The maize weevil (Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky) is one of the major insect pests that infests stored maize grain (Zea mays spp. Linneaus). This study demonstrates the feasibility of hermetic or “air-tight” storage for protecting maize from maize weevil damage using low-cost repurposed food oil containers. Maize infested with weevils was obtained from a local market in Kamuli, Uganda. Quality characteristics determined before storage included live weevil numbers, moisture content, and kernel damage. Storage treatments, each done in triplicate in 10-L containers, included (1) hermetically sealed and (2) non-hermetically sealed maize grain. After 30 days of storage, 100% mortality of maize weevils was achieved in treatment (1), while the number of weevils increased by nearly a factor of three in treatment (2). Although, there were no significant differences between treatments in final moisture content, test weight, and damage, broken corn and foreign material was significantly higher in treatment (2) versus (1). This 30-day study using an experimental design with up to three replicated treatments demonstrated that repurposed food oil containers can be effectively used for hermetic storage of maize.
Keywords: Grain quality; Moisture, Test weight, Damage, Broken corn and foreign material, Postharvest losses (PHLs); Hermetic storage; Sub-Saharan; Uganda, Africa