Hermetic Technology: A Breakthrough for Small Farmers
By Isra Shahid – Project Assistant at Haji Sons
These Hermetic bags do not only elongate the shelf-life of commodities stored but also discourage the use of chemicals to keep insects away, thereby ensuring producer and consumer health.
Achieving a farmer’s success story is what Haji Sons Group, Pakistan strives for. Proving to be a pioneer in bringing post-harvest storage technology and hybrid seeds in Pakistan is what sets the company apart from other seed companies operating in the country.
Not having an efficient and effective storage technology is one of the many problems that farmers in Pakistan have to face. The problem gets worse depending on the crop that one decides to store for months at a time. One troublesome crop is the red chili in Pakistan. Storing this vegetable in a traditional jute or plastic (PET) bag becomes a mighty challenge for the farmers due to two reasons: quality deterioration over time leading to health issues amongst the tillers and a bargain of a lesser rate in the market.
Since these storage options do not keep the contact of air/pest away, the vegetable starts inducing aflatoxin, making the crop turn black. Due to this deterioration, the chili decomposes into the air, releasing an unbearable smell that stings the lungs and the eyes. Farmers in South Asia have been suffering from lung diseases over time. At the end of the day, enduring the pain of storing the vegetable also doesn’t pay off because of the resultant poor quality.
Sky Red chili remains fresh in color/aroma after storing for months.
These problems have been addressed by Haji Sons as they introduced Hermetic storage technology to the Pakistani farmers in collaboration with Grain Pro. This particular technology, unlike the traditional bags, uses gas-tight and moisture-tight materials to seal/store commodities to keep them safe from any damage. These Hermetic bags do not only elongate the shelf-life of commodities stored but also discourage the use of chemicals to keep insects away, thereby ensuring producer and consumer health. These bags can also be used for institutions like industries that procure huge amounts of commodities and households that store items for daily use.
Haji Sons sells a variety of Hermetic bags depending upon the capacity and use of storage. The most commonly used by Pakistani farmers is the 20KG bag costing approximately 280 rupees. Amongst farmers, Mr. Muhammad Altaf is one of the frequent purchasers of this bag whose losses were greatly minimized upon its usage. Mr. Altaf stores Haji Sons’ high yielding red chili hybrid by the name of “Sky Red” in the Hermetic bags. Like other chili varieties, the issue of deterioration remains. “I came across Haji Sons’ Hermetic storage facility very easily on the internet as it was the only company providing this storage technology at the time,” commented Mr. Altaf in an interview. By increasing the production of Sky Red from 1 acre to 20 acres in two years, Mr. Altaf’s need for storing has been met by the Hermetic bags. “The main advantage of using this bag is peace of mind. I don’t have to go repeatedly in my storage room to check if the chili has gone dry and bad. It’s such a relief.”
The hermetic bags allow storage of chili for up to multiple years. Farmers like Mr. Altaf take advantage of this and sell at a premium rate later after the post-harvest period. “I get an additional profit of 5800 rupees per 40 kg bag,” Mr. Altaf admits as he purchased 200 bags this year for the harvest, successfully earning 1,160,000 rupees from this year’s harvest. In other words, the profit that is almost 19 times the amount of the investment, has been realized for the first time in Mr. Altaf’s 25-acre farm. In 6 months of storage (June to November), however, Mr. Altaf earns a whopping 138% on his investment as the rate goes up from 4200 in the start to 10,000 per 40 KG bag in the end.
Due to success stories like these, more farmers are realizing the need for effective storage in the Pakistani agriculture industry. Hearing one’s successful experiences have convinced other farmers to try and test the efficacy of these bags provided by Haji Sons. Mr. Altaf commented, “Many farmer friends of mine have been turning away from using jute and plastic bags by testing these Hermetic bags themselves. They were truly amazed.”