The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) will continue to work on developing aflatoxin control technologies even after FoodAfrica. The work will continue in cooperation with Wageningen University and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as they recently secured 600,000 Euro funding to develop and test business models for scaling up aflatoxin control technologies through farmer groups in Kenya.

When some molds grow on crops, they produce toxic substances that are known carcinogens and harmful to human and animal health. In Kenya, where the FoodAfrica research programme has run for four years, crops commonly contain aflatoxins. Consumers are aware of the risks and they are also willing to pay for aflatoxin safe food. However, efforts to avoid aflatoxins are proving difficult to scale out. Drying maize properly after harvest reduces the occurrence of aflatoxins significantly, but these techniques are not widely used.

Mobile maize dryer. Photo: Poverty Action

– We are in the midst of a pilot study, in which 14 farmer groups are all given access to Aflasafe and the mobile maize dryers that were the subject of our FoodAfrica research, Research Fellow Vivian Hoffmann from IFPRI says.

– So far, we have results on Aflasafe purchases; dryer operators are currently being trained and will offer the service to farmers in the coming weeks. Overall, 36.5% of farmers purchased Aflasafe at the full price of around $6.40 USD to treat one acre, and 42% those who were randomly assigned to receive a 50% discount on the price purchased. Connecting farmers to a buyer willing to pay a $2/bag premium on safe grain strongly increased adoption. Almost half of farmers who promised the premium price, conditional on aflatoxin safety, purchased Aflasafe, while only 15% of those without this market linkage purchased. This finding concords with findings from the FoodAfrica study with dryers. Finally, 85% of farmers who were both linked to the premium buyer and offered Aflasafe on credit purchased the product. We are planning a cluster-randomized trial next year to test these models at scale, Hoffmann continues.