|Panellists speaking during the First All Africa Post-Harvest
Congress held in Nairobi, Kenya from March 28 to 31, 2017.
Photo taken on March 30 by Justus Wanzala.
Njeri Okoni, who is involved with the Aflasafe project at IITA, told IDN that the project is targeting 11 countries – Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, The Gambia, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda – but that resource constraints had limited the spread of the programme to more countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. “We have limited resources but had to start somewhere. If we obtain access to more resources, we will expand to other countries.”
Okoni said that in Kenya, where Aflasafe is being used on maize, plans are under way to also include groundnuts and sorghum crops, while the Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation (KALRO) is setting up and Aflasafe factory to manufacture it locally. She noted that Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture has purchased Aflasafe and is making it available to vulnerable farmers in areas with high aflatoxin prevalence.
In partnership with KALRO and other stakeholders, Okoni said the project has seen 120 extension officers in Kenya trained as part of a training of trainer’s initiative, who in turn have trained more than 8,400 farmers and monitored the issuance and application of 82.5 metric tonnes of Aflasafe by these farmers.
She added that in order to make Aflasafe available to all farmers, IITA is working with KALRO to ensure that the organisation’s Aflasafe plant is fully equipped and ready to begin production by June 2017. “Two metric tonnes of Aflasafe have already been produced from a successful test run of the installed equipment,” she said.
Despite the breakthroughs, however, Okoni explained that implementation of the ATTC project in Kenya has faced challenges. For example, the drought that affected Kenya from late 2016 to early this year led to postponing use of Aflasafe until the next sowing season, while lack of adherence by users of the product to instructions on correct use has often affected product efficacy.
Another limitation, she said, has been improper timing of the stage of application of Aflasafe. “We are aware that adhering to such strict timelines by farmers may be difficult. Hence through continuous training and reminders plus monitoring by the extension team, the farmers should be able to get it right, as has been the case in other countries,” she says.
Okoni also explained that because sorghum is a key raw material in Aflasafe production, the cost of sorghum has an effect on the price of Aflasafe. “We are keen to support our local partner KALRO to establish adequate sorghum production measures. This includes working with select growers to ensure adequate supply and a favourable price,” she said.