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Aflatoxin biological control beyond research-scale towards commercial-scale adoption

Titilayo Falade: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

<div>Nigeria requires over 9 million tons of maize annually for human consumption and animal feed. However, market-sold maize samples have reported prevalence of 19 to 100% aflatoxin contamination with levels as high as 1000 ng/g. This poses food safety and economic risks to Nigeria’s population through chronic exposure to aflatoxins, lowered animal productivity and reduced access to premium markets. IITA, in collaboration with USDA-ARS and partners have developed a biocontrol product, Aflasafe™, that reduces aflatoxin levels by over 80%. To increase adoption and use of Aflasafe, the AgResults project gives premium prizes in the market as a ‘pull-mechanism’ to reward farmers whose products achieve reduced aflatoxin levels. This is done via agribusiness implementers who train and distribute Aflasafe™, aggregate produce, ensure testing, and secure orders from premium markets. Within four years of operating this system, the number of implementers has grown from 4 to 24 (500%), area treated increased from 1,500 to >20,000 ha (1233%), number of farmers using Aflasafe™ increased from 1,000 to >13,000 (1200%); and aggregation of aflatoxin-safe maize (less than 20 ppb) increased from 2,000 to >39,000 tons (1850%). As a result, farmers are producing safer food for themselves and the population, with improved income from premium prices received, demonstrating that the pull-mechanism is effective tool for increasing Aflasafe™ adoption and use for reducing aflatoxin contamination.</div>