Development of the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS)

Cowpeas as they should look
Two months of weevil work
A little history first …
Bean/Cowpea Collaborative Research
Support Program (CRSP)
The CRSP Technical Committee asked:
Why produce more cowpea if you can’t
store it?
Cameroon, November 1986 …
 Can we devise technologies that allow people to store their
cowpea grain after harvest with minimal losses?
 Partnership between Purdue-Cameroon formed – one of the
early participants was Ousmane Boukar; Laurie Kitch, Jane
Wolfson, Dick Shade, Moffi T’Ama, Georges Ntoukam
Monoculture Cowpeas
Intercropped cowpea – real world
CRSP Project (1987-2002) Goals
• Create simple, affordable, low-cost, implementable
technologies to preserve cowpea grain after harvest
on low-resource farms in Cameroon (later
West/Central Africa)
• Do so via Collaboration Host-Country = USA
• Define success this way: success ONLY if
technologies are accepted and used by farmers.
Project Strategy & Tactics
• Learn from the PEOPLE
Jane Wolfson and Laurie Kitch
Frequent visits
Collaboration the key
Work in villages with villagers
• Create a smorgasbord of control tactics
• Forget magic bullets
• Simple, low-cost, available materials
• No insecticides or chemicals
Storage in Ash
Breeding for storage
Solar disinfestation
Genetic transformation
Air-tight storage
The Triple-bagging (hermetic) technology
Adoption survey report – 2006
• Economists interviewed randomly chosen farmers in seven
West African countries
• Plastic bagging technology had 23% adoption in Nigeria, 13%
in Burkina Faso, etc.
• Net present value of the technology was $186,000,000;
original investment was ca. $3,000,000
• In sum: Big Benefits – what next?
Bill & Melinda Gates Purdue Improved
Cowpea Storage (PICS) Project
• 5 years duration
• Improve bagging storage technology
• Extend technology to 3.7 million cowpea farm
families (47 million people)
• Ten countries in West Africa
• Budget $11.4 million
Lessons Learned …
1. Respect the people you are trying
to help.
Lessons Learned …
2. Leave your arrogance at home
Lessons Learned …
3. Think simple, low-cost, practical
and using available materials
Lessons Learned …
4. Try to understand how the people see
the problem – see it through their eyes, not
Lessons Learned …
5. Goal should be to see your
technology USED …
Lessons Learned …
6. Plan for the loooooonnnnnng haul
– 25 year time frame is a good one …
Lessons Learned…
7. Helping poor people is awfully hard
Lessons Learned …
8. Technology alone is never enough
… Lee House … Technologies don’t
spread on their own. They need
help. They ALWAYS need help.
Lessons Learned …
9. Mobilize talented people. If you do, you
are 90 percent successful already.
(Laurie Kitch, Jane Wolfson, Dick Shade,
Moffi Ta’Ama, Katy Ibrahim, Boukar
Ousman, Georges Ntoukam, Jess
Lessons Learned …
10. Accept it as your fate that you are a
fund raiser and an awareness raiser.
WHAT NEXT? Can PICS bags work for Other Crops?
• Are PICS sacks effective against other pests on other
crops? (Of course people were already trying them on
other crops)
• Will PICS sacks prove COST-effective for other crops?
• Future question, given “yes” responses: Could users be
persuaded to adopt them and the value chain
As regards “Do PICS Sacks Work”
• What is the state of the art currently – what
crops/crop products have PICS bags been tried
with so far?
• What might be the problems?
– Mold might be a problem  aflatoxin?
– Insects might develop anyway despite low oxygen
– Insects might bore holes in the bags
– Seeds might not germinate
The End
Special Thanks to
Lowell Hardin
Russ Freed
Pat Barnes-McConnell
Katy Ibrahim
Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer
Dick Shade
Laurie Kitch
Moffi Ta-Ama
George Ntoukam
Venu Margam
Dieudonne Baributsa
Heather Fabries
MANY more!