Aflatoxin product is not helping farmers - CS Munya - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 31 August 2020

Aflatoxin product is not helping farmers - CS Munya

 Agriculture CS Peter Munya.

Farmers are not benefiting from the Aflasafe product aimed at controlling aflatoxin.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya said the maize farmers are facing a big problem with aflatoxin contamination.  

He spoke to the Star in an interview on Saturday.  

Munya said the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization came up with Aflasafe KE01 that is supposed to help fight aflatoxin.

“Unfortunately that product was leased out to a private company that doesn’t seem to have the ability to quickly provide it to the public for utilization. We are looking for a way in which we can make the product readily available to the farmers to improve the quality of maize,” he said.

This comes as millers raise concern over the high rate of aflatoxin contamination of maize being sold in the market.

The CS said the government is coming up with different interventions to address the problem, among them improving drying facilities within the country.

“We have a project within the ministry that is looking at the way of making drying facilities available close to the farmers either through cooperatives or associations. I urge the private sector to invest in the drying technology to improve the quality of storage, because part of the problem is on storage and drying, or the overall post-harvest management of maize," the CS says.

"The other intervention is on the reforms of sorting out the National Cereals and Produce Board so that we have warehouses because it is in the interest of the miller or trader to have quality maize. The reforms of NCPB are going to significantly assist that particular stage of the value chain.”

Paloma Fernandes, the chief executive officer of the Cereal Millers Association, said there is always the inherent misconception that millers are not addressing aflatoxin in maize.

“Aflatoxin really starts in our soils and therefore much needs to be done around regulating farming practice where mitigation might be most effective. Other issues that should be looked into include post-harvest handling of maize, monitoring and enforcing adequate quality along the maize value chain. It is therefore, inefficient and cost prohibitive to put all the responsibility of aflatoxin mitigation solely onto the millers’ shoulders,” she said.

Fernandes pointed out that when millers reject maize due high levels of aflatoxin contamination, in most cases it goes right back to the food chain through posho mills or smaller unregulated mills or ends up in animal feed but is hardly every destroyed.

“Once contaminated maize is rejected from the millers, it changes hands, devalues in price and is then sold at a discount of almost Sh400-500 less than a 90kg bag of maize within specified limits of 10ppb. This maize is then sold to willing buyers in the food chain are they able to place their products on the shelves at much cheaper prices."

She said focus needs to shift from flour to maize, adding that flour is extensively being targeted by regulators when they should be looking more at maize grain in the different value chains including farmers, aggregators, transporters among others. 

“Catching the problem early virtually eliminates the need to extensively monitor flour. The government should also work with the maize industry and especially smaller unregulated millers and posho millers to build capacities with regard to safe food,” she said.

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