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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Tackling aflatoxin with use of Bio-control product

By Bob Aston
Maize farmers now have a better way of reducing aflatoxin after the Kenyan Government approved usage of a bio-control product meant to fight aflatoxin-producing fungi. Alfasafe KE01 is a sustainable technology which could reduce aflatoxin contamination by up to 98 percent.
According to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Alfasafe KE01 has been approved by all relevant government regulations bodies after meeting stringent standards of safety and efficacy. KALRO expects that rapid adoption of Alfasafe KE01 will help the country to deal with the recurrent aflatoxin problem.
Aflatoxin has reduced trade opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is produced by a fungus scientifically known as Aspergillus flavus, as a result of poor drying and storage of the grain following heavy rainfall before harvest time.
Maize infected with aflatoxin
People get exposed to it directly by consuming contaminated crops such as maize or indirectly through milk or meat products if livestock have been fed with contaminated grain. Aflatoxin has been linked to liver cirrhosis, reduced immune function and stunted growth in children.
According to KALRO, Alfasafe KE01 works by introducing naturally-occurring nontoxic strains of the fungus, which have a competitive advantage over the strains that produce the deadly aflatoxin. The nontoxic strains then out compete with the toxic strains, reducing aflatoxin contamination.
It has also demonstrated an ability to maintain low or no contamination both at pre and post-harvest.  Farmers need to broadcast it by hand at the rate of 10kg/ha, two to three weeks before the flowering stage of maize to prevent the aflatoxin- producing fungus from contaminating the crop. This is expected to arrest the spread of the fungus.
The product is affordable, natural and environmentally safe. Once applied to a field the effects last multiple growing seasons, making it extremely effective. Its rapid adoption is expected to help in dealing with the recurrent and vexing aflatoxin problem.
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