Maize drying is an important step that has to be done immediately after harvest in order to minimize contamination of aflatoxin. Drying methods should be carried out either by sun drying for 2 to 3 days or by wind drying for 5 to 7 days on the clean and dry concrete floor, or on the tarpaulin or plastic sheet, or on the stretcher raised from the ground of at least half a metre in order to reduce the moisture content of maize ears below 23%.
In case of maize kernels, they shall be distributed immediately within 24 hours. If the distribution cannot be done on time, the moisture content shall be reduced to 18% within 2 days and stored not more than 3 days. In case of early harvest of maize which is planted during early rainy season, wet maize ears shall be shelled immediately after harvest. If the moisture content of maize kernels exceeds 30%, the produce shall be distributed within 24 hours.
Storage area shall be well-ventilated, dry, free from insects and disease carrier animals, and not be located near the storage areas of pesticides, fertilizers, and other hazardous substances. In the case where unhusked maize ears are stored for less than one month, the required initial moisture content shall not exceed 23%. This practice would result in reducing the transmission of diseases and insect infestation, and also inhibit the formation of aflatoxins for 3-6 weeks depending on the level of mold growth.
The height of the pile of maize ears shall not be more than 1 m. There shall be air ducts under the pile, or the pile shall be gradually turned over to reduce heat accumulation. Maize storage area shall have supporting material over the floor in order to prevent the produce from direct contact with the floor because maize will absorb the moisture from the floor, which consequently causes mold growth.
Maize ears shall be packed in containers like gunny bag. The bags shall be stacked up with adequate space between stacks, walls and ceilings. This practice will provide good ventilation and prevent maize from heat and humidity accumulation which is the factor promoting mold growth and insect infestation.
The packaging materials for maize ears or maize kernels e.g. gunny bag shall be clean and hygienic in order to be able to prevent contamination from hazardous substances and dangerous foreign matters including disease carrier animals such as rats, birds, insects or any other animals. Average relative humidity and temperature for maize storage during the dry season shall be 65% and 25-30 °C, respectively.
Vehicles for transporting maize shall be clean, tightly closed to prevent the produce from rain and contamination of hazardous substances. During transportation, maize ears and kernels shall be packed in a moisture-proof container to prevent an increase of moisture and the consequential formation of mold.
Provide appropriate health care and preventive measures to workers such as taking them to the hospital when sick or injured, or providing them with First-Aid kits.
Availability of records for inspection and traceability as follows:
(1) Sources of production inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.
(2) The use of pesticides.
(3) Cultivating and harvesting
(4) Buyers or distributors of each crop of production .Records shall be kept for at least 2 years in order to trace back and recall the produce when there is food incident.
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