One of seven main goals of the FoodAfrica Programme is reducing the risk of mycotoxins in Kenya. Mycotoxins are toxic substances produced by fungi. They are formed in susceptible grains such as maize and sorghum if they are handled or stored in wrong conditions. This is one of the biggest food safety problems in the world and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In January 2013 a multi-disciplinary team from the FoodAfrica research and development programme undertook a scoping survey of one of the most toxic mycotoxins, aflatoxins, in the feed-dairy chain. The team visited nine districts and about 30 villages in Kenya. During their visits to the villages the team conducted participatory rural appraisals on dairying and aflatoxins and held focus group discussions with local women, who are in charge of milking and milk sales on most Kenyan farms.
The team collected samples of milk and maize from three farms in each village and assessed the conditions of cattle on the farms. The data is still being analysed by ILRI and the University of Nairobi, but some highlights are already emerging. Firstly, there’s a big variety of cattle feeding practices in Kenyan villages. Secondly, most of the milk is sold into the informal sector. Thirdly, it is often thought that farmers have a more healthy and nutritious diet as they get to eat and drink the meat and milk they produce. However, that is not always the case and sometimes the women in charge of the milk sales value the money more than they value the milk, and therefore end up selling all of the milk.
All the communities visited were informed and trained on safe milk and safe feed. This is an important part of the FoodAfrica programme. All communities involved in, for example sample collection, are informed about the results. Reducing the risk of mycotoxins in Kenya is done by developing cost-effective and incentive-based mycotoxin control strategies and solutions for the use of farmers and other actors within the feed-dairy chain. This can improve the food safety situation in the villages.