Local leaders and agricultural officials in Eastern Province have advised farmers to desist from poor methods of drying maize.
Most districts in the province project a bumper maize harvest this season, but leaders are worried that its quality may be affected due to post-harvest challenges.
It is estimated that most maize produced in the Eastern Province is dried on the ground and sometimes on the roadside, thus compromising quality.
The Mayor Kirehe District Protais Murayire, lamented that even though farmers had been advised to use impermeable material to dry grains like maize, some had ignored the advice.
The Mayor said that experts have proved that drying maize on the ground attracts dirt, dust and disease-causing organisms.
“Using sheeting will not only reduce the dirt in the grains but will increase returns since clean grain will attract a quicker market,” he advised.
According to Innocent Ukizuru, an agricultural officer in the Province, the dangers of drying foods on an uncovered floor are enormous.
“Poor drying methods result in reduced revenue to the farmer because nobody is interested in buying dirty seeds. Another cause of poor seed quality is diseases, which attack the grain either in the field before harvest or while in storage,” he noted.
Claude Nzabandora, a maize grower in Rukomo village, Nyagatare District, noted that farmers who dry their grains on bare ground did so out of ignorance.
He pointed put that most farmers benefit from sufficient sunshine during the post- harvest period, adding that the sun is the cheapest and most common practice amongst maize farmers.
“We have one method of drying maize using sunshine…unfortunately farmers have not reached a level of buying sheeting to do so. Others of course, use bare ground due to ignorance,” he pointed out.