Farmers applying Aflasafe at a maize farm. Aflasafe eliminates aflatoxins by between 80 per cent and 99 per cent in a season. Photo by IITA.
Kenyans will no longer die from the poisonous aflatoxin causing fungi with the introduction of a biological solution against the poison.
More than five people have died in the pasts and livestock poisoned after the consumption of food and feeds contaminated by the aflatoxin.
Millions of tonnes of maize have been destroyed in the past to control further poisoning in the preparation of animal feeds and human food.
But an application of four kilos of Aflasafe on one acre of maize two to three weeks before flowering, protects the crop until consumption.
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)’s Charity Mutegi said the biological control against the poison causing Aspergillus flavus offers between 80 per cent and 99 per cent per given season.
Aflasafe looks like seed sorghum, although coloured blue to differentiate it from food and feed sorghum. The grains are subjected to heat before coating with four native beneficial fungi that progressively displace the poisonous strain,” Mutegi said.
The native beneficial fungi multiply faster than the ‘enemy’, therefore, limiting its survival resources like food.
The four are region-specific, in that, the aflatoxin fighting fungi used in Nigeria, The Gambia may not work in Kenya. Development of the anti A. flavus is done based on the findings of the most prevalent and its competitors in the given region.
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Tens of thousands of farmers in various countries in Africa are using the product, realising more than 80 per cent positive results.
Aflasafe is registered in Kenya, The Gambia, Senegal, and Nigeria.
The protection is defines as from plot to plate, to mean that the poisonous fungus cannot affect the produce either at the field or at the stores, when Aflasafe use is complemented with good agricultural practices, particularly in drying and storage.
In countries where Aflasafe is commercially available, 10kilos cost between the equivalent of Sh1,240 and Sh2,070. Four kilos are applied on one acre.
But there are packages 2.5kilos and five kilos for small-scale farmers, who may not buy 10kg packs. Alternative pack sizes are being considered to give farmers a broader choice and for easy and accurate application. Aflasafe will be locally manufactured when a factory under construction in Eastern Kenya is completed in June 2017.