Table of Contents

1. Overview

Commercial grain silo owners provide storage facilities (grain silos) for the safe and hygienic care of grains and oilseeds for the owners thereof. The facilities have to adhere to the regulations and requirements of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Department of Health regarding food safety.

A total storage capacity of about 17 million tons is available throughout the production areas in South Africa for the handling and storage of summer grains (white maize, yellow maize and sorghum), winter cereals (wheat, barley, oats and rye) and oilseeds (sunflower seed, soy beans and canola).

Commercial grain silos offer services like the following:

  • Grading at intake and out loading
  • Drying
  • Cleaning
  • Weighing

Find the full list of services at A map of Agbiz Grain members’ permanent grain storage structures (in interactive electronic format on the Google Earth platform) is also available on the same website.

Source: Agbiz Grain 


2. International business environment

  • Visit the website of Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS),
  • The Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division of the USDA-FAS, PECAD, provides global crop condition assessments and estimates of area, yield, and production for grains, oilseeds, and cotton -
  • Find the notes on grain storage and sampling at (under “Crop management”)
  • A joint Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)-World Bank report, entitled Missing Food: The Case of Postharvest Grain Losses in Sub-Saharan Africa, estimated the value of grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa at around $4-billion a year. The report called for investing in post-harvest technologies to reduce the losses and boost the continent’s food security.


3. Local business environment

A farmer has the following storage options:

  • Deliver the crop immediately to the miller/processor
  • Use silo bags
  • Erect your own silos
  • Make use of commercial silos off-farm.

The commercial silo owners offer producers, traders, buyers and processors a range of facilities such as:

  • A time solution (by extended storage periods)
  • A choice of locations (extensive geographic distribution)
  • Balance sheet (crops serve as collateral)
  • Grid linkage (through road or rail transport)
  • Managing surpluses (through timely bin allocation)
  • Preservation (compliance with food safety and food hygiene requirements)
  • Security (extensive protection of commodities in storage)
  • Standardisation (by applying grading regulations)
  • Maintaining quality (through frequent inspections and preventative procedures)
  • Regulatory compliance (adhering to all required legislation) Variety of products (GMO-free, good milling quality, high oil etc.)
Source: Agbiz Grain 

The advantages of on-farm grain storage are many, including the following:

  • The producer is adding value to his grain.
  • By cleaning and proper storage of his own grain, the producer can convert a previous cost item only into a small cost portion and a large asset portion.
  • After five years, a quality grain silo is paid for at roughly the same rate as central storage would have cost with the remaining 25 – 35 years; only the relative small operational and maintenance cost remains.
  • Large savings on transport can be realised.
  • Easier, automated logistics in the case of flow-through bins.
  • Proper grading and in the case of wheat for instance, blending up or down can realise huge additional revenue. Own cleaning of grain results in the producer retaining the screenings for feed and avoiding the penalty. Ensuring grain is delivered at the right moisture allows several percent higher realisation.
  • Grain can be stored for longer periods at lower cost, thereby taking full advantage of the time value of grain.

The only qualification to these advantages is that a proper, low risk system be installed.

Source: ABC Hansen