Top officials of Kenya’s agriculture and irrigation ministry visit KALRO/IITA Aflasafe manufacturing plant

8 June 2018

A high-powered delegation from Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation led by the Cabinet Secretary (CS), Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri, recently visited the Aflasafe manufacturing plant jointly built and operated by IITA and the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO).

Picture of IITA hub director Victor Manyong explaining the aflasafe production process to CS Mwangi Kiunjuiri  and PS Harry Kimutai. Looking on is IITA’s Lawrence Kaptoge
IITA hub director Victor Manyong explaining the aflasafe production process to CS Mwangi Kiunjuiri and PS Harry Kimutai. Looking on is IITA’s Lawrence Kaptoge

During the visit, the CS said he was impressed with the modular plant that is now fully operational and capable of producing 10 tons of AflasafeKE01 per day but can be further scaled up to over 40 tons per day. AflasafeKE01 is an innovative biocontrol product developed specifically for Kenya where it sustainably and effectively reduces aflatoxin contamination. The construction, purchase, and installation of equipment of both the plant and lab were finalized in 2017 and production commenced in the same year.

The CS further said he would push for enactment of relevant policies to enable farmers, especially those in aflatoxin-prone areas, to have access to AflasafeKE01 to ensure the safety of food in the country, and for considering AflasafeKE01 as one of the inputs in the government’s subsidy program.

Hon. Kiunjuri was accompanied by the Principal Secretaries of Research and Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Prof. Hamadi Iddi Boga and Harry Kimutai, respectively.

The IITA team was led by Victor Manyong, the hub director for Eastern Africa; Charity Mutegi, Aflasafe technical lead for Eastern Africa; and Lawrence Kaptoge, General Technical Manager for the Business Incubation Platform at IITA (IITA-BIP) in Ibadan, who is also in-charge of the construction of the Aflasafe plant and oversees its current operations.

The team from KALRO comprised its Director General Eliud Kiplimo Kireger, the two Deputy Directors General, the Director of the KALRO Agricultural Mechanization Research Institute, and other senior staff. Also present were the members of the Government of Machakos County where the Aflasafe plant is located.

Briefing the ministry officials on the plant, the team said the plant is the first modular Aflasafe manufacturing facility in the world. Aflasafe products are registered for commercial use in Kenya and five other African nations–Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and The Gambia. IITA also has a large- scale plant to manufacture Aflasafe in Ibadan, Nigeria.

In Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia, the process of registering indigenous Aflasafe products is in progress. IITA and partners are currently identifying and developing local and regional Aflasafe products in Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Rw anda, Ug anda, and Zimbabwe.

The cost of construction of the plant, including purchase and installation of equipment was about US$1.2 million while that of developing the Kenya Aflasafe product was approximately $2 million. The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture–Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), and the Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).

DG Kireger further informed Hon. Kiunjuri and his team that IITA and KALRO will partner with and license private sector actors when the dem and for AflasafeKE01 outstrips the capacity of the plant. However, they will still be responsible for producing the active ingredient that will be used for Aflasafe production by future manufacturing partners.

The team noted that the low level of awareness about aflatoxin and the product remains a challenge.

The visit was in preparation for the official launch of the plant scheduled for later in the year. The team also toured the KALRO/IITA Regional Mycotoxin Research and Training Laboratory that is supporting the Aflasafe plant and supporting the eastern Africa region in building capacity and enhancing research on interventions to address mycotoxin contamination in crop produce.

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