AFLASAFE

Aflatoxin control product available to farmers at Sh201 a kilo

Company says marketing and distribution during the long rains was disrupted by Covid-19

In Summary

• Aflasafe is an all-natural biocontrol product applied in the field to reduce aflatoxins in crops such as maize.

• Experts say the application of aflasafe is done by broadcasting two to three weeks before flowering at a rate of four kilos per acre. 

Charles Macharia, Koppert biological systems general manager, holds a packet of Aflasafe. Looking on are Dr Oscar Magenya, Director of Research and Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture, who was representing PS Agriculture when announcing the commencement of commercial marketing and distribution of Aflasafe
SAFEGUARDING HEALTH: Charles Macharia, Koppert biological systems general manager, holds a packet of Aflasafe. Looking on are Dr Oscar Magenya, Director of Research and Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture, who was representing PS Agriculture when announcing the commencement of commercial marketing and distribution of Aflasafe
Image: Courtesy

Farmers can buy Aflsafe, an aflatoxin control product, from the NCPB stores across the country for a retail price of Sh201 per kilo.

Charles Macharia, the general manager at Koppet Biological Systems Limited, said farmers can buy Aflasafe from the nearest agro-dealers, especially in Eastern Kenya where the short-rains period is the main planting season. He spoke on Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Star.

Koppert Biological System is an international market company that deals with biological crop protection and was awarded the contract to market and distribute Aflasafe in Kenya in late 2019. 

 
 

“It is also available in 29 of National Cereals and Produce Board stores across the country and plans are at an advanced stage to further distribute the product in the upcoming October-November-December short-rains season, particularly in the Eastern part of the country. In the Rift and Western counties, the foundation will continue to be laid ahead of the long-rains season in 2021,” Macharia said.

According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro), Aflasafe is an all-natural biocontrol product applied in the field to reduce aflatoxins in crops such as maize. It is produced at the modular production facility in Kalro-Katumani.

Experts say the application of Aflasafe is done by broadcasting two to three weeks before flowering at a rate of four kilos per acre.

“This reduces aflatoxin contamination of treated maize by 80 to 90 per cent. The reduction is maintained throughout the maize value chain although this needs to be complemented with proper drying, handling and storage of the grains,” said a Kalro report on Aflasafe.

Macharia explained that farmers were not able to access the product during the long rain season because of the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said by mid-February, they had a plan to train farmers and agro-dealers but could not bring them together after the outbreak of the virus.

"Agro-dealers are crucial because they can only sell what they are familiar with and what farmers demand. During the early stages, nobody was meeting and nothing could happen, yet the long-rains season was approaching. By the time restriction of movement was lifted, the season had already passed. This was not only disruptive but also disorienting,” Macharia said.

He pointed out that with challenges such as climate change and emerging pests like the fall army worm, farmers from across the country should use the product to reduce aflatoxin levels.

 
 

“Millers also have a role to play and instead of just buying maize from anyone, they should buy maize from contracted farmers who ensure the end produce is safe," Macharia said.

He added, "We are encouraging them to do traceability on maize growers, to ensure the produce is grown in the right agronomic practices, and that it's dried, stored and transported in the right manner. Everyone has a role to play starting from the farmer all the way to the aggregator, miller and consumer who needs to demand safe food."