Aflasafe ke1 product that will rid of Aflatoxins in maize and other cereals launched
Farmers will soon sigh with relief following the launch of an effective product to control the deadly food poison – Aflatoxins.
Aflatoxin is a highly hazardous toxin produced by fungus found in soils and in plant matter, including cereals, peanuts, seeds, and other legumes. It has become an epidemic in the East African region, particularly in arid and semi arid areas. It has also been associated with liver cancer, growth retardation, stunting in children, and suppression of the immune system.
Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO) together with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) team have been spearheading efforts to develop the product in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS).
Speaking on Monday during the launch of the product at KALRO headquarters dubbed ‘Aflasafe KEO1’ , Director General of KALRO Dr. Eliud Kireger said exposure to high level aflatoxin can cause hemorrhaging, edema, and immediate death.
“In countries such as Kenya, documented cases of widespread aflatoxin poisoning are fast becoming a common occurrence, particularly in rural areas forcing regulators to control maize entry into the food chain leading to food insecurity and increased food prices”, Dr. Kireger said .
He said that while developed countries had largely removed the risk of aflatoxin contamination from the human food supply through the use of modern drying and storage systems and routine testing, it had remained a risk in developing countries where maize is the staple food.
“Aflasafe will be a very important product for control of aflatoxin in maize and other cereals with its efficacy at above 80 percent “, he said noting that the launch of the product was handy.
Dr. Kireger said the application of the 10 kgs per hectare bag will cost farmers between Ksh1200 to Ksh 1500 and will be available from January 2017 since the factory manufacturing the product in Katumani area of Machakos will be operational starting November 2015.
Head of plant protection services at the State department of Agriculture Pinius Ngari Nyaga , said Aflasafe will combat the menace of aflatoxins which has been in the country since 1960s.
“We have suffered great losses to Aflatoxin”, he said noting that the ministry has for the last two years been importing over 220 Aflasafe products from Nigeria.
He noted that the product would work and that it was time that the country stopped the losses it had been making and gave an example in 2010 where the government disposed off, 155,000 contaminated produce which not only affected income to farmers but also food security in the country.
Dr. Ranajit Bandyopadhyaya, of IITA said the product will be easy to use since it will be applied once per season.
“All that the farmer will have to do is to throw it on the ground two to three weeks before plant flowering at the rate of 10 kg per hectare”, Dr. Ranajit said advising farmers that once they start using the product they should continue every season to ensure it pushes away the aflatoxins completely.
Peter Opiyo the CEO of Kenya Pest Control Produce Board (PCPB) said the product has undergone all the necessary regulations to determine efficacy through a rigorous process and advised farmers to ensure that they used it according to the recommendations.
The Managing director of IITA Dr. Abdou Koniambigue said that through the aflasafe programme, they will support manufacturing and distribution businesses in Kenya.
Aflasafe is developed as a solution to aflatoxin and is being implemented among other African countries. Kenya is the 1st country to commercialize Aflasafe and has put up a Regional Mycotoxin Research and Training Laboratory at KALRO Katumani that will serve the entire East Africa region.
By Wangari Ndirangu