ILRI aflatoxin infographic, Nov 2013.
‘In an effort to address aflatoxin poisoning, which has killed more than 100 people in the country, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) has launched the first ever Aflatoxin lab in Kenya.
‘According to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya is one of the world’s hotspots for aflatoxins, with the highest incidence of acute toxicity ever documented being in 2004 and 2010.
‘In 2010, the government estimated that 10 per cent of the maize harvest was contaminated by aflatoxin, with losses valued at Sh89 billion, which cut across the value chain, hence affecting farmers, millers, traders and consumers.
‘This led to a mop up of about 155,000 bags (90kgs) of contaminated maize valued at Sh465 million.
‘The impact on health is alarming especially for small-scale farmers whose families consume their own production.
‘The aflatoxin laboratory was launched last week by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei. It will help intercept maize with high toxin levels.
‘The minister also launched construction of a Sh14.62 million facility to produce a bio-pesticide known as aflasafe, which can suppress aflatoxin producing fungi in the soil.
The plant will be expected to produce 15 tons of the aflasafe in a week, with the initial target being to produce sufficient amounts to treat about 100, 000 hectares. The facility will also serve in making aflasafe for local and regional trials and serve as a demonstration facility for manufacturing and business plan development,” he said, adding that construction of the factory, the first of its kind in Africa, will be completed within 12 months.
‘Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony of the Aflasafe Modular manufacturing factory in Katumani, Machakos County, Koskei said there is need for a modern and well-equipped laboratory with highly trained scientists for constant surveillance and monitoring. . . .’
Read the whole article in The Star (Kenya): Why aflatoxin may soon be a thing of the past, 18 Nov 2014.
Read more about research on aflatoxins in East Africa