Women enshrine traditional paddy storage practices


In the northeastern part of India, particularly, in the State of Assam, paddy is grown throughout the year. It is stored at domestic level for a shorter period of time. The women play a crucial role in taking adequate traditional measures to prevent storage losses. Different storage structures and containers are fabricated with locally available materials. Different forms are used based on the duration of storage.

Prevailing storage methods

The un-threshed or threshed paddy is stored in outdoor structures or indoor structures and containers that are extensively made with bamboo. The bamboo poles, bamboo mats, long strips of matured bamboo or short strips of tender bamboo are used for fabrication. The locally available clay known as Salkot and Indrakot is mixed with cow dung for plastering of walls. The size of the structure or container depends on the quantity of grain to be stored. The bulk storage of un-threshed paddy is done in outdoor structures, like Guchi Bhoral and Guti Bhoral. The threshed paddy is stored in indoor structures and containers called Bakharu, Mer Duli Hak and Tom.

 Bhoral is a hut like structure,  placed at a height of about 8 to 10 feet from ground level supported by bamboo pillars. Some farm families even construct brick and cement pillars. The hut for Guchi Bhoral is made by inter-weaving bamboo strips to make appropriately 3 cm squares. A thatched roof is placed on the top made by coconut leaves on bamboo frames. Guchi bhorals are used mainly to store unthreshed paddy.  Immediately after harvest, harvested paddy can be stored along with the straw, thus, occupying more space. Guchi Bhorals can store about 80-100 quintals of paddy.

Guti Bhoral is an outdoor structure for storing threshed paddy/grains. It is constructed with locally available material, thus making it cost effective. The hut like structure is fabricated with inter-woven bamboo mats as walls, and plastered with mud and cow dung. A thatched roof is erected on the structure which is similar to Guchi Bhoral. In recent times, many farm families have started using galvanized sheets as a permanent roofing material in both types of Bhoral. Guti Bhoral is convenient to store grains in bulk. Storage capacity varies from 150-300qtls.

In both types of Bhorals, the erection of structure above the ground level prevents moisture absorption and damage by rats. The galvanized sheet prevents paddy from getting damaged during rainy season. Since these are large  structures, the construction is time consuming and labour intensive. Maintenance efforts include replacing bamboo logs, broken or infected bamboo strips, torned out mats and seasonal plastering of mats. These structures require group activity for storing and taking out paddy, as it is difficult to carry it out individually.

 Bakharu is a large capacity indoor storage structure that is built on a raised platform. The platform is made with bricks and plastered with mud or cement. The walls are made up of bamboo mats supported bybamboo poles. The inner and outer walls are plastered with mud to give firmness to the mats. The structure restricts the entry of rats and keeps the stored produce relatively moisture free. The mud plastering also helps in eliminating moisture contamination and prevents grain infestation.

 Mer and Duli are portable indoor storage containers that are fabricated by weaving in different shapes, long and thin strips of bamboo. While Mer is an elongated shaped container, the Duli is a cylindrical container with a tapered base and a wide open mouth The inner and outer walls of both the containers are plastered with clay and cow dung, which is locally available.   The container is always placed on a raised platform and after filling threshed paddy from top, the container is covered with a bamboo mat or a cloth or a plastic sheet. Storage capacity of Mer varies from 3-20 qtls while Duli can store upto 2-10 qtls.

 Tom is a unique bag made out of tender bamboo strips for storing seed. A round shaped bag is woven with bamboo strips by leaving one-inch gap between weaving. This open space is then layered with dry straw to protect the grain from falling. The bags are hanged from the roof inside the room, in a cool place to allow proper aeration.  The seed stored in the bags ensures 90 to 95 percent germination. The fabrication of these bags requires skill and it is a time consuming process. Moreover, the bags are also not re-usable.


Proper storage of paddy at domestic level is essential to avoid storage losses and enhance food security. Women,  traditionally have the skills and knowledge of fabricating different structures and containers with locally available eco-friendly materials. They also posses the knowledge of improving the storage containers to prevent storage loses by using local wisdom.

Sumita Roy, Ex-Professor, Home Science Extension, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab

Manoshi Baruah Deka,  Associate Professor, Home Science Extension, Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat, Assam

Indigenous post harvest management technologies

M.Natarajan and Santha Govind

The hilly communities of Kalvarayan hills in Tamil Nadu,  India, consist of tribal population, who depend largely on agriculture and livestock. In this area, the tribal women adopt many indigenous cost-effective post harvest techniques.  Some of them are mentioned below.

  • The harvested millet seeds are mixed with wet ash. After mixing thoroughly, the seeds are dried.  This is done to control the storage pests.
  • Dried chillies are crushed and mixed with cut pieces of lemon and ash. This mixture is mixed with millet seeds during storage.  The pungent smell of chillies and the acidity of lemon prevents attack by storage pests.  Thus, the millet seeds are kept away from storage pests.
  • Cereal grains are stored in tall mud pots or bins, which are popularly called as “Kudhirs”. These mud pots are made up of clay soils and plant fibers.  The height ranges from 1 to 3 meters.  An opening at the base, helps to draw grains from kudhir, whenever needed. There are normally 1 to 3 kudhirs in each house depending on the requirements.
  • Neem leaves and neem tips are kept along with cereal grains like paddy, ragi etc. The pungent smell of neem leaves prevents attack by storage pests.
  • Nochi (Vitex nigunde) leaves are kept along with the cumbu (bajra) seeds during storage, to prevent the occurrence of pests. The pungent smell of nochi leaves resists the pest attack.
  • Paddy seeds are mixed with the Ipomea leaves, which act as pest repellent.
  • Pulse seeds are stored in salted gunny bags to resist the storage pests.
  • Red soil is mixed with pulse seeds and kept in a separate place for storage. It helps to prevent attack by storage pests.
  • Banana bunches are soaked in hot water immediately after harvest and the harvested bunches are arranged in a compact manner inside small dark rooms. Smoke is induced inside by igniting dried wooden fibers.  This enables faster ripening of fruits.
  • In the banana bunch, the tip is cut and then the stock of the bunch is placed in the polythene bag containing 100ml of water mixed with 50 gm. of ash. This bag is tied near the tip of banana bunch.  This makes the bunch to ripen quickly.
  • For quick ripening of jack fruit, a small piece of neem stick is inserted in the top portion of the fruit.
  • After harvesting, the tomato fruits are given a coating with charcoal, for longer storage.

M.Natarajan, Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Extension, Faculty of Agriculture, Annamalai University, Annamalainagar-608002, Tamil Nadu, India. email: mnrajpriya@yahoo.com

Dr.Santha Govind, Professor, Department of Agricultural Extension, Faculty of Agriculture, Annamalai University, Annamalainagar-608002, Tamilnadu, India.

E.Mail: santhagovind2003@yahoo.co.in

Sumita Roy and Manoshi Baruah Deka

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