IITA launches aflasafe, reiterates commitment to quality food production

As part of efforts to boost maize and groundnut production in Nigeria, significantly lower aflatoxin contamination in food and feed, boost profitability for the poultry industry and ensure healthier families and better income for farmers, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), has launched a biocontrol product, aflasafe, which drastically reduces aflatoxin contamination in crops.

This took place last week at the launch of the Aflasafe Technology Transfer and Commercialisation (ATTC) project, which is targeted at improving the lives of more than 4.5 billion people in the developing world, who are exposed to aflatoxins, carcinogenic poisons produced by a fungus that contaminate crops and are detrimental to human health, and can even cause death.

The product, aflasafe, which will also address the suppression of immune systems linked to stunting in children, is developed by IITA, United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS), and national partners and the ATTC project, funded jointly by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation), is designed to run for five years, will cover 11 countries where aflasafe is, or will soon be a nationally registered product: Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, The Gambia, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda.

The event featured presentations by Programme Manager, Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), African Union, Dr Amare Ayalew, who spoke on the impact of aflatoxins on agriculture, trade and health, shared experiences and perspectives from farmers, traders and processors, and the development of aflasafe products in Africa by Leader, Africa-wide Aflasafe Initiative, IITA, Dr Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, Research Plant Pathologist and Adjunct Professor, USDA-ARS/University of Arizona, Dr Peter Cotty and Managing Director, aTTC/IITA, Mr Matieyedou Konlambigue.

The Commissioner in Charge of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, ECOWAS Commission, Mr Tchambakou Ayassou, who was represented by Mr Ernest Aubee, in his address, described aflasafe as a welcome development, noting that “studies have shown that aflasafe technology will guarantee more income for farmers.”

Calling for delivery to statutory areas, Ayassou and other stakeholders, craved the support of government and the private sector and thanked donor organisations and supporters who ensured that the project was successful, while appealing to African governments to support such projects.

Director for the Regional Hub for Southern Africa, Dr David Chikoye, in his closing remarks, noted that “with aflasafe, we can conveniently declare that aflatoxin is in great danger. We should work together to reach the farmers who are hungry for aflasafe technology.”

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