Purdue Improved Crop Storage
The Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) project aims to increase the income of farming families in West and Central Africa through the use of inexpensive, plastic grain-storage bags. PICS first focused on cowpeas, an African staple, but research in a second phase (PICS2) extends to other grains and crop products. PICS bags, developed at Purdue by entomology professor Larry Murdock, reduces loss of cowpea grain to insect infestation. If 50% of cowpea grain at the farm level were put into airtight storage (PICS bags are one type), overall annual income in the region would increase by $255 million.
PICS technology also opens another economic opportunity—PICS bag production and distribution. PICS project staff are working with local manufacturers to produce PICS bags and with entrepreneurs to distribute them throughout West and Central Africa.
A Brief History
The original Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) bags were developed to protect cowpeas in storage from destruction by weevils. However, development of the bags was only the beginning. The second phase included demonstration of the technology in the hope that people would adopt the use of PICS bags, which they did. For the results of this work, see the video clips below and in the Impact section of this website.
In a second phase, the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS2) project, researchers are investigating if PICS bags can control insect pests in stored maize (corn), sorghum, wheat, rice, peanut, common bean, hibiscus seed, mung bean, pigeon pea, and bambara groundnut. Researchers are also checking to see if seeds stored in PICS bags stay viable for planting, are less likely to mold, or less often contain fungal-produced toxins.
An additional focus of the PICS project has been to create new economic opportunities associated with PICS bag production and distribution. PICS project staff members are working with local manufacturers to produce PICS bags and with entrepreneurs to distribute them. (See the Supply section of this website.)
In the Video Highlights section below, you can find video of a “bag opening ceremony” where farm families open PICS bags after using them to store cowpeas for several months.