New Caledonia is getting much needed help to safely dry and store locally produced food crops as it attempts to invigorate the agricultural sector. Tom de Bruin, President of GrainPro® Philippines, recently visited the area to train government personnel in the use of innovative sun dryers and Ultra Hermetic™ storage solutions.
The island chain in the Pacific Ocean has big hopes of achieving food and agricultural independence. Called the “Heart of the Pacific”, this French territory is known for its rich deposits of nickel, which play a crucial role in the international nickel trade.
Despite its status as a major economy among the many island countries in the Pacific, it is very dependent on imports to feed an estimated population of 670,000. For example, rice, the staple food of the islands, is imported from Thailand and nearby Australia. An estimated 6000 tons of brown rice are imported each year with only one mill to process everything.
To turn things around, the French government assigned the Agence de Développement Economique de la Nouvelle-Calédonie (New Caledonia Economic Development Agency) or ADECAL to diversify the islands’ agricultural resources. ADECAL is currently developing the rice seed business to provide local farms with acclimatized rice seeds that fit the islands’ tropical climate.
GrainPro is working with ADECAL to test innovative postharvest solutions to safely dry and store rice seeds. Using Solar Bubble Dryers™, harvested seeds at 22 to 17 percent moisture content are dried down to a safe 12 percent. The seeds are then stored in SuperGrainbags® and Cocoons™ to ensure optimal storage conditions and good germination. New Caledonia is now planning to use the Cocoons to store consumption paddy in the next harvest season.
Food sufficiency is a common challenge among small island countries. Their isolation requires them to be self-sufficient, but the lack of resources make it difficult to achieve this. Whether grown locally or imported, dry agricultural commodities can rely on GrainPro’s line of Ultra Hermetic storage solutions and innovative sun dryers to safely preserve quality and quantity of seeds and dry agricultural commodities without using harmful chemical fumigants.