Aus help for Egypt grain headache


THE world's largest importer of wheat, Egypt, has long had a problem with its grain storage network.

Grain has generally been stored in old-style jute bags in open sheds and there are significant losses to spoilage and pest damage.

However, the beleaguered Middle Eastern nation is not in a position to make a large-scale investment in a network of permanent storage.

An Australian business has played a role in creating a low-cost alternative, utilising the same silo bags that are commonly used by Australian growers.

Ian Metherall, of Silo Bags Australia, a grain storage business based in Nagambie, Victoria, said his company was forging a strong reputation in North Africa, with a successful trial in wheat storage in Egypt following a similar project in Sudan.

He said the company had now been asked to design a complete storage system for a silo-bag based wheat storage system, including IT systems for stocks and information.

“We’ve come up with a system that monitors carbon dioxide levels in the bag for quality assurance, and we’ve joined with Canberra-based business Connexxion to develop a software system which will manage stocks information," Mr Metherall said.

He also said the system would utilise radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for better stocks control.

The Egyptian wheat storage industry is big business.

Mr Metherall said there was three million tonnes of storage at present, with the vast majority still stored in 100 kilogram bags.

He said moving wheat from the paddock to the receival site in Egypt was a laborious process, which involved in-paddock thrashing, using a stationary machine, and the grain being bagged, then unbagged before a final packing process that can take three months.

“It’s a pretty old fashioned system, you’ll occasionally see donkeys up there on the weighbridge, and most of the grain comes in by the uteful, so there’s a lot of scope for modernisation,” Mr Metherall said.

He said a key concern of the Egyptian government was cutting wastage and improving food security.


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