Grain production and storage are major components in food security. In the ancient times, food security was achieved through gathering of fruits, grains, herbs, tubers, and roots from the forests by individual households. Advancements in human civilization led to domestication of crops and a need to save food for not only a household, but the nation. This extended need for food security led to establishment of national reservoirs for major produces and this practice varies greatly in different states. Each of the applied food production, handling, and storage approaches has its benefits and challenges. In sub-Saharan Africa, several countries have a public funded budget to subsidize production costs, to buy grains from farmers, and to store the produce for a specific period and/or until the next harvests. During the times of famine, the stored grains are later sold at subsidized prices or are given for free to the starving citizens. If there is no famine, the grain is sold to retailers and/or processors (e.g., millers) who later sell it to the consumers. This approach works well if the produce (mainly grain) is stored under conditions that do not favor growth of molds, as some of these microbes could contaminate the grain with toxic and carcinogenic metabolites called mycotoxins. Conditions that alleviate contamination of grains are required during production, handling, and storage. Most of the grain is produced by smallholder farmers under sub-optimal conditions, making it vulnerable to colonization and contamination by toxigenic fungi. Further, the grain is stored in silos at large masses, where it is hard to monitor the conditions at different points of these facilities, and hence, it becomes vulnerable to additional contamination. Production and storage of grain under conditions that favor mycotoxins poses major food health and safety risks to humans and livestock who consume it. This concept paper focuses on how establishment of a local grain production and banking system (LGPBS) could enhance food security and safety in East Africa. The concept of LGPBS provides an extension of advisory and finance support within warehouse receipt system to enhance grain production under optimal conditions. The major practices at the LGPBS and how each could contribute to food security and safety are discussed. While the concept paper gives more strength on maize production and safety, similar practices could be applied to enhance safety of other grains in the same LGPBS.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited