October 18, 2011
China Grain Reserve Corp (Sinograin) is pushing for the implementation of nitrogen and temperature controls for more efficient grain storage.
Sinograin is promoting such methods in efforts to reduce food losses during the process of grain preservation. The company has so far stored up to 3.5 billion kilogrammes of grains with the nitrogen moderation method, it said.
Nitrogen usually stays unreactive. By replacing oxygen with nitrogen in sealed storage space, the food can remain in better conditions for a longer time because the method slows the decomposition of food.
Government data showed that Chinese farmers used to lose as much as 10% of their grain harvest due to unscientific storage methods.
The company has so far started preserving corn, soy and wheat with nitrogen controls after the method was first applied with rice storage.
It has also begun the construction of a two-billion-kg nitrogen-based grain reserve project this year.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the UN World Food Programme, all stressed the importance of reducing the losses of grains after harvest in a jointly released report before the World Food Day that is celebrated each year on October 16.
The Sinograin said that nitrogen moderation could be a new chapter for the safety of food storage and food saving.
The company is now also using temperature controls to better preserve grains across the country. In northern China, more than 80% of the grains are stored with temperature controls, up nearly 30 percentage points compared to five years ago.
It said that food rotting will slow if they are kept under a stable and controlled temperature of below 20 degrees Celsius.
The nitrogen and temperature techniques are improvements compared with the previous ways once used to store grains, including the use of chemical agents, which could contaminate food and cause environmental pollution.
Most branch companies of Sinograin are ditching chemical agents for food storage in the north of the country, while the southern provinces are reducing the use of them.