Farmer applying aflasafe haead of flowering. Application of Aflasafe three weeks to flowering reduces aflatoxin attacks by over 80 per cent. Photo by IITA.
As maize starts to flower farmers may avert poisonous fungus contamination by applying a biological control of aflatoxins, Aflasafe.
Aflasafe, which is a research product from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), prevents afaltoxin causing fungi from accessing the maize cobs. The protection starts from the field up to the store.
Aflatoxin in the past has caused more than 10 deaths of people and tens of livestock after poisoning from the Aspergillus flavus fungi after consumption in food and feeds.
IITA researcher Charity Mutegi said earlier that broadcasting at least four kilos of Aflasafe in one acre can protect the crop.
She added that 80 per cent to 99 per cent success has been recorded in the countries in Africa where it has been applied two to three weeks ahead of flowering.
Application ahead of flowering ensures that friendly fungi are deposited in the farm to occupy and protect the maize cobs from formation.
In the protection process, the Aspergillus flavus- the poison producing fungi- are surrounded and prevented from reaching the maize cobs.
At least four friendly verities of from the same family, introduced in the Aflasafe, compete for food with the enemy, which is edged out in the process.
Aflasafe is made from sorghum. Ordinary sorghum is heated ahead of coating with four friendly that are known to drive the aflatoxin causing varieties out as a result of better adaptability.
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Kenya was thrown into a food crisis after rains failed towards the end of 2016. Apart from other vegetable and fruits, which have since normalized in supply, the country is still importing maize to meet the food and feed demand.
Even after the rains of April and the planting, the food scarcity may persist if the maize is not protected against the aflatoxin causing fungi.
In the last decade, tens of thousands of stored maize grains have been destroyed after testing positive for the aflatoxin.
Aflasafe is sold at between Sh1,240 and Sh2,070 for every 10kg pack depending on the country. A 2.5kg pack is also available for small holder farmers.
The product is registered in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, The Gambia, among others.