Agriculture Cabinet Secretary launches KALRO/IITA factory for aflasafeKE01, a product for controlling aflatoxin in Kenya
4 October 2019
The plant is the second of its kind in Africa and was constructed as a partnership between the Kenya Agriculture Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to tackle aflatoxin, a major threat to the country’s food security, at KALRO-Katumani. Built at a cost of $1.2 it is fully operational and can produce up to 5 tons of Aflasafe KE01 per day with the possibility of expansion.
Speaking at the event, Hon Mwangi Kiunjuri noted that the plant marked an important milestone in the fight against aflatoxin, a well-known carcinogenic and a major health challenge in the country.
He said the Government of Kenya was very committed to ensuring the country is food secure and aflatoxin was a threat to this goal.
I have been informed the plant had already procced 120 tons of the product ready for distribution and my ministry will take up 70 tons for demonstration. We will also use up 10% of the money we have set aside for subsidies to work with country governments to in aflatoxin hot spot areas to subsidize the product for farmers to create awareness,” he said.
Aflatoxin is a deadly chemical produced by naturally occurring fungi that attack many crops including maize – which is a key staple food for a majority of the country’s population – while in the field and in storage.
“Aflatoxin is a silent killer and is usually very difficult to control once it contaminates our grains, our feed and products such as milk and eggs. We are therefore happy that we have a very effective antidote for it,” said Dr Victor Manyong, the IITA Director for Eastern Africa, speaking at the launching event.
Dr Manyong further commended the Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and partners led by KALRO for their support that saw the fast paced development of the Aflasafe product and the construction of the plant, saying this is a clear indication of their dedication for ensuring that the country is food secure.
Also present at the event was the Patrick Wilson, Deputy Mission Director for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Kenya and East Africa, who noted that aflatoxin was a global problem even in the United States.
He congratulated the team for their efforts that led to the development of the safe and effective technology to control aflatoxin. He noted the current challenge was to sustainably scale-up the technology to ensure all farmers are able to access it.
“This facility is a first of its kind in East Africa giving Kenya the opportunity to lead the region in tacklaing aflatoxins. Tanzania, Malawi and Rwanda are also moving towards aflasafe production in their countries in partnership with the private sector,” Wilson said.
Aflasafe is a completely safe natural product that drastically reduces aflatoxins in crops. The base technology was first developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). IITA together with USDA, adapted and improved the technology for use in Africa starting in Nigeria where Aflasafe was first registered and the first plant in Africa constructed.
In Kenya it was developed through a collaboration of KALRO, IITA, USDA-ARS among many other partners. It has shown high efficacy of up to 98% in reducing aflatoxin levels in maize and has demonstrated its ability to maintain low or no contamination both at pre- and post-harvest.
Partners involved in the development of the Kenyan strain of the aflatoxin and its registration in the country include Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Ministry of Agriculture, National Irrigation Board, and county governments, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and ACDI-VOCA. It has been registered by the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) with KALRO as the registrant.
USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USDA, and CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health supported the effort. All these partners were also behind the construction of this modular Aflasafe KE01 manufacturing factory at KALRO Katumani and a regional laboratory to assist in constant monitoring and surveillance efforts of aflatoxin and capacity building.
The construction of the plant was initiated in 2016 and finalized last year. IITA is providing technical backstopping while KALRO staff will manufacture Aflasafe KE01. The modular facility also serves as an incubator of the technology to attract the private sector which will be ultimately responsible for wide-scale production and distribution of the product.
In addition to Kenya and Nigeria, local versions of Aflasafe are available in Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, and neighboring Tanzania.
For more information about Aflasafe, go to: https://aflasafe.com/
Catherine Njuguna, firstname.lastname@example.org