Sustaining food supplies and improving health in Kenya
Contamination with fungal toxins is a prominent food safety concern in tropical regions. Aflatoxin, a fungal toxin common in maize and groundnut, affects much of African produce. Besides exacting a significant health toll, it impedes farmers’ access to global food markets and high-value domestic markets. This project will develop and test business models to support the scale-up of a biocontrol product to combat aflatoxin among smallholder maize farmers in Kenya.
Aim: This project “Sustaining food supplies and improving health: Integration of small farmers into modern value chains with food safety standards in Kenya” will compare business models for sustainably managing food safety risk through adoption of an aflatoxin bio-control agent, Aflasafe, and rapid testing for aflatoxin contamination.
Objectives: Developing this value chain for aflatoxin safe food would achieve three objectives:
- Smallholder maize farmers would be integrated into modern value chains that increasingly demand safe food as a prerequisite of market participation.
- The livelihoods of these farmers would be made more resilient in the context of climate changes that favour aflatoxin contamination of their primary crop.
- The safety of the food supply for vulnerable urban populations would be improved.
Method: The project will use a randomized controlled trial (RCT) approach in which farmers are linked to high value output markets demanding aflatoxin-safe maize. The project would specifically target maize farmers in Meru County, Kenya who belong to farmer groups. Meru is a global hotspot for aflatoxin contamination and a significant reliable maize production area. Kenya is one of only two African countries in which an aflatoxin biocontrol product has been licensed for general use. Primary outcomes to be assessed are adoption of Aflasafe and test kits by farmers, prices received by farmers for their maize, and the safety of maize consumed by participating farmers and sold to millers.
Dutch policy goal: Sustainable food systems.
Duration: August 01, 2016 – May 02, 2020