In 2020, UPL Corporation Limited and IITA signed a one-year exclusive distribution agreement for the distribution of Aflasafe GH01 and Aflasafe GH02 in Ghana.

Aflasafe GH01 and Aflasafe GH02 are revolutionary biocontrol products, which reduce the prevalence of aflatoxins in treated maize and groundnut by 80% – 100% from farm to fork. Aflatoxin is a poison that affects approximately 25% of the world’s food supply and disproportionately impacts the poor. Aflatoxins are a major concern because of their acute and chronic health effects on humans and domesticated animals, at very low concentrations (parts per billion; ppb). Moreover, countries lose market opportunities both domestically and internationally due to crops unable to meet aflatoxin standards.

The technology was initially developed by the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). The technology was adapted and improved for use in Ghana by IITA, USDA-ARS, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and Ministry of Agriculture. The active ingredient fungi (i.e., the non-toxin producing strains of Aspergillus flavus) of the two Aflasafe products were isolated from Ghanaian soil and maize and groundnut crops collected in 2013. IITA is the official registrant of the two products; registration was granted by Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana’s biopesticide regulator.

The agreement with UPL will serve to develop the market for the products and may lead to a manufacturing and supply arrangement for several West African countries if the initial 1-year period is successful. UPL Corporation Limited is one of the international arms of UPL Limited, a leader in global food systems and one of the top 5 companies worldwide that produce agricultural solutions. UPL has a presence in over 130 countries. With market access to 90% of the world’s food basket and its focus on high-growth regions, UPL is a valuable partner to develop the market for Aflasafe in Ghana and make it available to farmers. The exclusivity granted to UPL creates incentives and reduces the risks for the company to invest in the market development for a new product. Aflasafe remains available to the public sector for research and development activities within Ghana and also available in the event of a food security emergency in furtherance of the CGIAR vison.

IITA works with UPL and other development partners to create awareness about the negative effects of aflatoxins and the integrated management practices, including the use of Aflasafe, to significantly reduce aflatoxin accumulation and exposure. IITA is supporting UPL in this regard to train various actors, including public extension officers, representatives of farmer’s organizations, and the farmers themselves. IITA also supports the development and dissemination of communication tools at community, district, and national levels.