In November 2014, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Development, Felix K. Koskei, presided over two events marking progress on reducing mycotoxin contamination in staple crops. A new, modern laboratory facility will enable researchers to accelerate cutting-edge solutions to contamination, while the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization in Katumani broke ground on a small-scale plant that will manufacture Aflasafe KE01, a biopesticide to control aflatoxin.
Aflatoxins are among the most common types of mycotoxins, poisonous substances produced by toxic fungi that frequently colonize crops in the field and during storage. In Africa, aflatoxin contamination causes major post-harvest losses and threatens health, food security and livelihoods.
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony in Katumani where the manufacturing plant will be constructed, Secretary Koseki noted that aflatoxins are a major barrier to Kenya’s food security and to regional and international trade. He hailed Aflasafe KE01 as a sustainable technology that has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing aflatoxin contamination by up to 98 percent. The new plant, which is the first of its kind in Africa, is expected to make Kenya’s maize value chain more profitable as more smallholder farmers gain access to this technology.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) contributed $500,000 to support the development of Aflasafe KE01 in Kenya. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development have since contributed complementary funding, and an additional $100,000 from FAS in September 2014 made the manufacturing facility possible, along with support from USAID and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development through the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa.
The Mycotoxin lab facility was built primarily with funds from the World Bank and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture. USAID provided funding for laboratory equipment.