Introduction: To lift rural household out of poverty, improved market links and integration are. Most rural household produce most of their own food, during one agricultural season per year, so they need to store it to bridge the lean season and protect them from price fluctuations. Recent new technologies, in particular hermetic bags, offer new possibilities as they reduce losses from insects and fungi to almost none. The major benefit of the hermetic bags are, however, allowing farmers to store longer, as the risk of storage losses is removed. In the short run, they can store their cereals longer, and sell or consume them later in the season. In the longer run, they can invest more and increase the production of more susceptible but productive crops such as maize. By increasing production and selling later at a better price, they can substantially improve their income, food security and livelihoods. Therefore, this study is designed to evaluate the impact of hermetic storage, first on the decrease of storage loss, but especially on behavioral change.
Study design: Eight hundred seventy farm households will be selected randomly in one district of East Wellega, an administrative zone in West Ethiopia with high levels of storage losses and high maize producton; 435 households will be given 3 hermetic bags, to store about 300 kg of maize, and provided with training for proper use, the other 435 will serve as control. Data on storage, marketing, storage losses, income and food security will be collected at baseline, right after harvest, and after the end of the storage period, 6-7 months later, over two years.
Expected results. In the first year of using hermetic bags, we expect rural households to increase their consumption, postpone their marketing, and increase their income. In the second year, we expect an increase in area and production, investment in more hermetic bags, and increased income and consumption. In the long run, we expect increased market integration, with farmers increasingly producing for the market.