To monitor and control physical, chemical, physiological and biological losses during storage of food grains in the warehouses, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur, is working on development of technologies and gadgets required for monitoring the abiotic environments in warehouse and management tools for safe management of paddy.

This was being undertaken in collaboration with the Food Corporation of India, SAMEER, Mumbai, and C- DAC, Kolkota. This project is being funded by DIETY in which application of novel techniques like radio frequency sterilization are being tested to prevent insect or pest infestation in stored products, according to the IIFPT Director, C. Anandaramakrishnan.

India produces about 263.3 million tonnes of food grains a year. The post-harvest losses vary between 12 and 16 million metric tonnes, an amount that the World Bank stipulates could feed one-third of India's needy. The grains are usually stored in farms, homes and warehouses. Improper storage and insects continue to be the major threat causing qualitative and quantitative losses during storage.

Indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides in grain storage system has resulted in deterioration of nutritional quality and difficulties in management of stored grain. Also, pesticide residues and their metabolites present in grains are found to affect the human health, Dr. Anandaramakrishnan observes.

Being a national institute working on post harvest processing and preservation, the IIFPT is furthering research works to find out permanent solutions for these problems through various techniques. One research supported by DSIR is on multilayered bags such as hermetic storage, cocoon storage and on bulk storage of grains in silos as an alternative to traditional bag storage systems.

Another research is on spice storage and management protocols for spices which is the major export earner for India. This is being funded by the Department of Science and Technology in which in-bin fumigation studies and computational simulation and modelling of the fumigation process was done to find out the optimum dosage of fumigants and application and distribution patterns.

In the Indo-UK collaborative project entitled “GrainCare”, the IIFPT is aiming to develop modern low cost sensor and mobile apps for complete monitoring and corrective measures during drying and storage of grains to cut down post-harvest spoilage and maintain the quality of stored or dried product. The farmers will get mobile alerts regarding moisture or temperature rise during drying and storage and IIFPT will also provide the solutions to the respective problems so that the farmers can act immediately to prevent any losses in quantity as well as quality of grains, Dr. Anandaramakrishnan notes.