By Joshua Kato
Unless you have access to processors who accept nut-in-husk (which is very limited), you will require on-farm facilities for post-harvest handling including de-husking and drying. In planning and operating these facilities, there are three important considerations:
- The equipment must be designed and operated in accordance with legal standards under Work Place Health and Safety and other legislative provisions. For example, adequate lighting, machinery guards, ventilation and safety equipment needs to be provided to ensure worker safety.
- As de-husking nuts is a noisy operation, care needs to be taken to site postharvest handling facilities as far away from neighbours as possible, particularly where farms adjoin residential areas.
- Postharvest handling systems must be designed and operated to prevent physical damage to the nuts, and reduce the risk of contamination and quality deterioration of the kernels. Important issues here include:
• Maintaining good hygiene and food safety practices. Keep the shed and equipment in a clean condition as dirty and poorly maintained equipment increases the risk of nut contamination from vermin and other pests. For the same reason, prevent birds, rats and other animals from entering the working areas. Provide containers for waste, including reject nuts, and frequently remove waste, disposing of it properly. Remove risks for nut contamination from either physical sources (for example bolts) or chemical sources (for example rat baits). Ensure all people handling nuts practice good hygiene.
• Careful design and maintenance of equipment. Nut sorting areas that are well lit and comfortable for workers improve the efficiency of sorting. Design the shed to avoid prolonged exposure of nuts to direct sunlight, as this increases the risk of rancidity and shell cracking. Ensure de-husking equipment is properly set up to avoid cracking of shells. Regularly clean silo fans and other areas where dust builds up to maintain equipment efficiency.
• Monitoring systems. Install a monitoring system to record daily movements of nut-in-husk (NIH) and nut-in-shell (NIS) through the shed, and into and out of storage. The MacMan farm recording system is ideal for this.