mud silos in GhanaIn the Republic of Ghana, poverty prevails in both northern communities and rural areas. 

Though the country has a 45% agricultural-based economy, 1.6 million of its citizens are undernourished due to poor food systems and a lack of infrastructure. To combat this, grain silos made out of mud are being constructed using traditional methods to help farmers retain harvested goods and end hunger in Ghana. 

Disproportionately, northern Ghanaian citizens suffer the greatest from hunger, having the highest level of food insecurity in Ghana at 23-49%, contrasting with 4-10% in southern areas. The greatest cause of hunger in Ghana is insufficient storage facilities that allow crops to go to waste. Post-harvest food losses in Ghana are estimated to be anywhere between 20-50%, resulting in the waste of 3.2 million tons of food. With grain such as rice and maize as staples of Ghanaian cuisine, farmers produce them in significant quantities, and storage is imperative. 

Historical Background 

Mud silos have helped end hunger and store harvested grain in Ghana for centuries. In northern Ghana, ethnic groups such as the Konkombas have been using mud to build grain silos for storage for hundreds of years. By blocking out oxygen, the mud silo allows the grain to ferment, which preserves the grain crop until it comes into contact with oxygen. The silos preserve crops by keeping them in a dry climate that does not allow them to rot. As a proven method, silos can save crops for up to 50 years, and grain for anywhere from 30 to 35 days a year. Due to this, the mud silos help to end hunger in Ghana.

How Do Mud Silos Help End Hunger?

By protecting crops and grains, mud silos can reduce food wastage to less than 5%. The Opportunities Industrialization Centers International has helped build silos in Ghana for less than $25 a day. 

Compared to other structures, mud silos last between 10-15 years, and can be made from materials easily accessible to farmers like clay, straw and water. The OICI has helped build 2600 mud silos in regions across Ghana, helping farmers to preserve and utilize their crops and grain to the maximum capacity. 

Mud silos and education about them continue to help farmers across Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa store their crops and reduce hunger sustainably. The greater the yield of a crop a farmer is able to save, the more people the yield can feed. By reducing food losses so greatly, communities across Ghana are helping to be fed.

– Nadia Soifer
Photo: Flickr