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Government intensifies marketing, distribution of Aflasafe to help farmers fight aflatoxin

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Kenyan farmers will now be able to access Aflasafe, a natural product that fights aflatoxin at Sh201 a kilo following a contract between the government and private sector to enable it (government) market and distribute 157 metric tonnes of the product.

The product in its huge volume has been laying at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization’s (KALRO) Katumani Factory for the last eight months due to lack of logistics capability by the government to reach it to farmers since it was developed a few years back.

And now the government has been able to contract a biological crop protection company -Koppert Biological Systems- to distribute the farm input to all farmers in the country.

“For long farmers mainly the small scale have been grappling with high presence of aflatoxin in maize more than the standard level of parts per billion (PPP) of 10ppp in Kenya and 4ppp in European Union. The new technology has been achieved after intensive research work of over 15 years, going forward we expect the country will benefit from safe food,” said Prof. Hamadi  Boga, Agriculture  Principal Secretary (PS).

RELATED ARTICLE: Alfasafe protects your maize from deadly aflatoxin

According to Dr. Eliud Kireger, KALRO’s Director General (DG), the factory price of Aflasafe stand at Sh.135 per kilogram and the same is expected to increase to Shs.201 per kilogramme, owing to logistics and transport cost.

“We have discovered the effects of aflatoxin in maize, groundnuts and other several food crops hence there will be a lot of training for farmers to know how to use the new anti-aflatoxin technology and embrace it in their farming activities to save consumers from aflatoxin effects,” said Kireger.

Health experts and local scientists have blamed the high presence of the aflatoxin to liver cancer, suppresses the immune systems, and retards growth and development of children, among other health problems.

In a speech read on his behalf by Ministry’s Director of Research and Innovation, Dr. Oscar  Magenya  at a Nairobi Hotel on Monday, while unveiling the distribution of Aflasafe, Prof. Boga said that the move will have the associated benefit of reducing health risks of consuming aflatoxin-contaminated food.

RELATED ARTICLE: Alfasafe protects your maize from deadly aflatoxin

The distribution of the farm input, Boga added, will shield the country against economic burden of managing resultant chronic illnesses such as cancer.

“This milestone was the outcome of a great partnership between The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), with the support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” said Prof. Boga.

He added, “For any new technology to be useful to the public, it would need to be adopted and widely used. This is the reason why KALRO went ahead with a process to identify a competent distributor through an open and competitive process,” he said.

The company was picked out of seven applicants that had applied for the tender after Government sought an expression of interest last year.

The PS said that maize is recognized as a key contributor to food security, serving the staple food needs of more than 90 percent of the Kenyan population.

“With a national production of 40 million bags and a consumption of 52 million bags, the country perpetually experiences a maize deficit. The government aims to increase Kenya’s maize production from the current 40 million to 67 million bags by 2022,” said the PS.

He added that achieving this target would be futile if in turn a big percentage of this maize is contaminated with aflatoxins as this leads to condemnation and destruction of such produce.

RELATED ARTICLE: Applying aflasafe chemical two to three weeks ahead of maize flowering stops aflatoxin

The Koppert Biological Systems Kenya Limited General Manager, Charles Macharia, stated that his company has a wealth of experience in handling biological crop protection products and have a wide distribution network which will ensure the products reach all farmers.

Macharia explained that the price of Sh.201 of Aflasafe is affordable to majority of farmers.

“Equally, our plan is to involve distributors and agro-dealers based in the counties and must be fully licensed to avoid sale of counterfeits. We are aware of the counterfeits challenge in the country, especially if and when the product becomes popular and the volumes increase. However, we have lined up some mechanisms to protect the farmers from that and we are working on traceability model from the factory all the way to the retail by using the available technology such as the scratch and SMS type which is already in process,” explained Macharia.

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