IITA to commercialise, disseminate aflatoxin biocontrol products to farmers in Africa

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The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, and partners has said that it will commercialise, disseminate first aflatoxin bio-control products to farmers in Africa.

A statement by the IITA Communication Specialist, Mrs Adaobi Umeokoro, on Thursday said that the institute, partners had commenced a project to ensure that aflasafe products reach the farmers.

“African farmers will soon have a product that will ensure safer food for their families and communities, a natural product called aflasafe that can reduce contamination from aflatoxin.

“The aflasafe will be made available in at least 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Following the success of aflasafe – the first indigenous bio-control innovation for the prevention of aflatoxin contamination on the fields and store houses of maize and groundnut farmers in Africa.

“IITA is now set to enable commercialisation of the technology to ensure that farmers in need of the product will have access to it,” he said.

According to him, more than 4.5 billion people in the developing world are exposed to aflatoxins, carcinogenic poisons produced by a fungus that contaminates crops.

He said that Aflatoxins were detrimental to human health, and could even cause death as they suppress immune systems associated with stunting in children.

“Aflasafe is a revolutionary bio-control product developed by IITA, United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS), and national partners.

“So far, aflasafe has been reported to achieve up to 98 per cent efficacy in reducing grain contamination on the fields and stores of farmers where aflasafe products are registered.

“IITA envisages a scenario where every African farmer will apply the product on their field, producing aflatoxin-safe grains for their families and communities buying from the market.

“This is expected to positively affect the heath conditions of people and improve profitability of maize and groundnut value chains,” he said.

Umeokoro said that the new aflasafe Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Project (aTTC), funded by a $20 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID, was launched last December 2016 to be implemented in 11 countries.

The countries where Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

“aTTC will be led by IITA with support from USDA-ARS, Chemonics, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa of the African Union (PACA), national institutions, and Regional Economic Communities such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“aTTC places partnership with the private sector at the core and is working with business partners that can help to achieve the goal of producing an effective, affordable product.

“To get aflasafe to the masses, we need many companies, millions of small-scale farmers, distributors, who know what aflasafe can do to apply it,” he said.

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