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American Companies Bring Agricultural Technologies to Smallholder Farmers

Smallholder farmers in developing countries typically use traditional knowledge passed on by families and communities to decide when to harvest and how to store grain. Without the tools and equipment to keep high-moisture grains dry or to accurately measure the moisture of harvested grain, however, farmers are susceptible to post-harvest loss caused by mold and mycotoxin growth during storage. These dangerous toxins can severely affect human and livestock health.
 
By partnering with American companies who specialize in agricultural technologies, Feed the Future is helping these smallholder farmers get the tools they need to prevent contamination and increase the safety and profitability of food crops. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss, led by Kansas State University, is working with the John Deere Foundation and Missouri-based Romer Labs to equip farmers with the knowledge and equipment to test the moisture content of grains and properly dry them to make them less susceptible to mycotoxins. 
 
With a grant from the John Deere Foundation, the Innovation Lab obtained 40 hand-held moisture meters and is training farmers in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana and Guatemala to measure moisture throughout the process of harvesting, drying and storing crops. 
 
The Innovation Lab also set up mycotoxin testing of harvested grain samples in all four of these Feed the Future focus countries using an in-kind donation of state-of-the-art AgraVision™ readers and AgraVision ELISA test strips from Romer Labs. Thesetechnologies help researchers test and quantify toxic mold in grain samples and will be used to collect data to help educate smallholder farmers about the presence of these toxins, as well as the dangers of consuming contaminated grain products. Farmers will learn that proper drying and storage techniques for high-moisture grains can eliminate toxins and ultimately make their grain crops safe to consume.
 
In addition to these efforts, the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss Innovation Lab is working to build the market for value-added grain products like bread and snack foods. Through collaboration among Kansas State University, Bahir Dar University, Partners in Food Solutions and TechnoServe Africa, a new grain product quality testing center will be established at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia. This facility will eventually offer practical training for personnel from the grain, milling and baking industries. Select faculty from Bahir Dar University will receive additional training at Kansas State University. 
 
With fewer harvests going to waste as contamination is reduced, others along the agricultural value chain stand to benefit from higher quality food products and an improved market for agricultural goods and services.

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