• Aflasafe is an environment-friendly bio-control product.
• The Aflasafe product will cost Sh135 per kilogramme.
The government has intensified the campaign against aflatoxin that has been a huge problem in dry areas. It seeks to curb post-harvest losses.
On Monday, the Agriculture and Livestock ministry commissioned an Aflasafe manufacturing plant at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute in Katumani Machakos county.
Aflasafe is an environment-friendly bio-control product that consistently reduces aflatoxin by up to 80 per cent during crop development and post-harvest storage, and throughout the value chain.
CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said the factory at Kalro is a major intervention and will protect people from contracting cancer, boost food production and contribute towards poverty reduction. It can produce 3,000 tonnes of Aflasafe but Kiunjuri said they will scale up production as demand rises.
The product will be applied to crops. Kiunjuri said it will prevent losses and enable farmers to reduce expenses associated with cancer treatment. He said 65 per cent of maize and groundnuts produced locally is destroyed by aflatoxin every year.
"If we apply Aflasafe now and people start consuming safe maize, you will see the prevalence of cancer going down over time," he said.
The Aflasafe product will cost Sh540 per kilogramme. An acre farm will need 10kg of the product, translating into Sh5,400.
Kiunjuri urged the county governments to educate farmers and residents on the benefits of safe food. He said the ministry will allocate Sh200 million to buy Aflasafe for farmers in the worst-hit counties as a way of illustrating how the product works.
"The ministry will look at the counties that grow maize crops and coffee and decide which one will benefit," the minister said.
Aflatoxin remains one of the major challenges facing farmers and consumers, with 10 counties hurt the most. They are Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi, Kilifi, Laikipia, Kwale, Embu, Tana River and Meru.
Kiunjuri said the government is ready to partner with the counties to cost-share the product for farmers so they reduce production costs.
Consuming food that is contaminated with this fungus exposes children to stunting, with scientists arguing that it can be linked to cancer of the liver.
Human exposure occurs through breast milk, weaning and consistently throughout an individual’s lifetime either by ingestion, contact or inhalation.
Last year, the government destroyed 2.3 million bags of maize contaminated by aflatoxin. This means if one bag of maize was valued at Sh2,000, it cost Sh4.6 million in direct profits for the farmers.
(Edited by F'Orieny)