Agriculture experts have raised alarm on the high level of aflatoxin

A study conducted in May 2017 by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) show serious infestation of Aflatoxin in Maize at household level of up to 95 percent

Gabriel Rugalema, FAO representative in Kenya, said only four percent of the produce meets the standard of 10 p/b, meaning that people are eating contaminated food and risk contracting infection.

Speaking Thursday in a Nairobi hotel during the launch of a regional project to address Ending of Hunger in the Horn of Africa, Rugalema said that there is need to put in place measures to mainstream post-harvest management in the country’s development programmes, before the long rains harvesting season.

Farmers should be adequately trained on how to dry their produce, store their grain so that there will be no recurrence of contamination and poisoning, he said.

Stanley Kimereh, a technical officer at FAO said about 150 samples tested, with focus on maize at the household, in the local market and also maize in the school feeding programmes revealed that about 94 percent of the samples tested had high levels of aflatoxin above the acceptable limit in Kenya of 10p/b and only 6.8 percent had less than 10p/b he added

Kimereh noted that post-harvest management is lacking hence the need for capacity building at the source.

We are working with the government to reduce the contamination so that we don’t have to address the issue of destroying what has already been contaminated and removing it from the food chain, noted Kimereh adding, Kenya, is a maize deficit country and we would want to try to save what has been produced.

The study was carried out in Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Makueni, Kitui and Machakos counties by FAO in collaboration with the ministries of Agriculture, Health and County governments.

In 2009/2010 cropping season, about 3 million bags of maize was found to be contaminated in the lower Eastern region and about 155,475 bags were disposed.

Though there have not been any scientific study linking cancer cases to aflatoxin poisoning, Kimereh pointed out that aflatoxin is still one of the contributing factors to cancer and stunting in children, a big problem in the country.

Kenya has been experiencing persistent drought with up to 2.6 million individuals affected in the last years,

The project project aims at catalyzing concrete action on the ground to end hunger and domesticate the Malabo declaration in the six countries at the Horn of Africa namely: Kenya; Djibouti; Ethiopia; South Sudan; Uganda and Rwanda.

In Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, food security is coded as a complex condition that requires holistic approach involving complementary actions targeting access dimensions of food security, all forms of malnutrition, productivity and incomes of small scale food producers, resilience of food production systems and the sustainable use of biodiversity and genetic resources.

Source: Kenya News Agency