Benin is now storing some 150,000 tonnes of rice on farms
But insect pests are taking a financial toll on the stores, destroying up to five per cent of rice
Regional variations could reveal more about the best ways to tackle the pests
[COTONOU, BENIN] Insect pests that attack stored rice are causing financial losses to farmers in Benin, researchers report in the first such study of the crop in the country. But they also found significant regional differences in damage.
According to their paper, published in the Journal of Applied Sciences earlier this year (21 February), rice production in the past was not high enough in Benin to justify long-term storage on farms so insect damage was less significant.
But since 2009, rice production has increased in many African countries and storage has become common practice. In 2012, Benin recorded 150,000 tonnes of stored paddy rice.
The researchers sampled 65 rice stores around the country and carried out a survey among farmers to determine their views on the economic importance of insect damage.
For a storage period of four to six months, they found financial losses were up to 21,315 Francs of the African Financial Community (around US$42) per tonne of stored rice in the south of the country and up to US$16 in the north.
By weight, they reported losses of about 5.5 per cent after six months of storage in the south, four per cent in the central region and 1.6 per cent in the north.
The damage caused by insect pests includes a reduction in nutritional value, grain discolouration, reduced germination, bad odour and taste, and the formation of mycotoxins that can cause serious illness in consumers, says lead author Abou Togola, an entomologist at the Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice) in Benin.