A team of Purdue University faculty and staff has received the College of Agriculture’s annual TEAM award for the development of crop-saving bags. The team created the Purdue Improved Crop Storage, or PICS, program, which has helped improve food security for farmers in Africa.

The PICS program involves a chemical-free storage method using hermetic triple bagging. The bags allow farmers to store various crops for more than one year after harvest.

"The work of the PICS team is making a difference in the lives of millions of people in Africa by helping to increase farmer income as well as improve food security," said Jay Akridge, dean of Purdue Agriculture. "The passion and commitment they demonstrate for putting the PICS technology into the hands of those who can benefit is both exemplary and inspirational. They are eminently deserving of the TEAM Award."

Purdue says the PICS technology was developed in the late 1980s, but the initial PICS program began in 2007 and focused on using the technology to safely store cowpeas in west and central Africa. A second phase, known as PICS2, focused on using the bags to store other crops.

PICS3 is extending the program to commercialization involving multiple crops and bringing the technology to countries in eastern Africa. All three phases were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The team will be recognized at a ceremony May 9 and will receive a $10,000 cash prize to continue working on the project. The team will also receive a commemorative plaque which will be displayed in the Agricultural Administration Building.

You can learn more about the project by viewing the video below: