Indigenous grain storage structures

In India, a large quantity of food grains is stored in villages in different traditional storages structures and containers. It is estimated that sixty to seventy percent of food grains produced in the country is stored at home level in indigenous storage structures. The storage methods range from mud structures to modern bins. The containers are made of a variety of locally available materials and differ in design, shape, size and functions. The materials include paddy straw, wheat straw, wood, bamboo, reeds, mud, bricks, cow dung etc.

Method of storing grains

There are different ways of storing the produce.

  • Indoor storage: bamboo containers, wooden box, mud structures, wooden box, and earthen containers
  • Outdoor storage: paddy/wheat straw structures
  • Underground storage.

Indoor storage of grains

Kanaja is a grain storage container made out of bamboo. The base is usually round and has a wide opening at the top. The height varies. The Kanaja is plastered with mud and cow dung mixture to prevent spillage and pilferage of grains. The top is also plastered with mud & cow dung mixture or covered with paddy straw or gunny bags.

Wooden boxes

Wooden boxes, also called as Sanduka, are used for storing pulses, seeds and smaller quantities of grains. These boxes have a storage capacity of three to twelve quintals.  In some cases, partition is also made inside the box to store two to three types of grains.  A big lid on the top with a small opening enables taking out the grains.  To protect the grains from moisture, the box is kept 12 inches above the ground level with the help of stands/legs.  The box has to be regularly polished for its maintenance.


Kothi is used to store paddy / jowar.  A room is constructed with a large door for pouring grains. A small outlet is made for taking out the grains.

Earthen containers

Earthen pots are indoor storage containers for storing small quantity of grains.  These are made up of burnt clay by village potter and are of different shapes and sizes.  The earthen pots are placed at the floor level. They are arranged after the other and known as dokal.

Outdoor storage of grains

Bamboo structures are used for storing unthrashed and threshed paddy.

 Gummi is an outdoor structure used for storing grains.  This structure is made with bamboo strips or locally available reeds.  It is usually circular or hexagonal in shape and plastered with mud.  The base on which the structure is constructed is also made up of reeds or in some cases with stone slabs.  The roof of the structure is usually made from loose straw.  The structure is placed on a raised platform.

Paddy/ wheat straw structures

The paddy or wheat straw is woven as rope which is used for making Kacheri, a traditional storage structure. It is made from either paddy straw or paddy straw mixed with mud.

Underground storage of grains

Hagevu is an underground structure that is used to store  grains.  It is a simple pit lined with straw ropes to prevent damage due to moisture.  In some cases, hagevu is constructed with stones as an indoor structure.  After filling the structure with grains to its full capacity, the paddy straw is spread on top as a thick layer and the structure is finally sealed with mud plaster.  In some cases a small square or circular opening is provided at the top.  The inlet opening is above the ground level.  The advantage of this structure is that fumigation is not required for disinfestation.  Grain can be stored for a longer period. This storage method is suitable for dry agro climatic zones and not suitable for storing seeds.

Highlights of Indigenous Storage Methods

  • Bamboo structures made on a raised timber or stone platform protect grain from rat damage and prevent moisture absorption from the ground.
  • However, indigenous storage structures are not suitable for storing for long periods.
  • Regular mud plastering is required for a variety of indoor and outdoor storage containers and structures for increasing their life span and ensuring safe storage of grains.
  • The structures made of indigenous material like bamboo, straw and other plant material allow free flow of air but can be damaged by fire.

Geeta Channal, Channamma Nanjayyanamath, Research Associates, Shobha Nagnur, Senior Scientist, All India Coordinated Research Project, Dept. of Home Science Extension Education, College of Home Science, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad.

Geeta Channal, Shobha Nagnur and Channamma Nanjayyanamath

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