UNDP/GEF encourage use of bio-control for standard grain production

Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

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In order to have high quality maize and groundnuts for even export, farmers of the produce in Nigeria have been encouraged to embrace the use of the cost effective and bio-control substance, Aflsafe, which tackles the toxic fungi infection.

Speaking at a three-day training in Gombe by the UNDP and the Global Environment Facility for Extension workers from Gombe and Adamawa, Mr. Zakariya Iliya of Harvestfield Industries, said dreams of many exporters of the grains had been crushed due to the traces of Aflatoxin found in the grains after being exported to foreign countries.

Mr. Iliya said because of the effect of the fungi infection on export and the health of the people, the International Integrated Tropical Agriculture developed the Aflasafe product to control the toxin in maize and groundnuts.

He told Extension Workers from Adamawa and Gombe States, that the Aflasafe product was introduced to produce high quality and cost effective bio-control way of tackling Aflatoxin.

“That is why the IITA has come out with a research and with a result of this Aflasafe. They carried out the research and in collaboration, Harvestfield is the one producing and marketing it. Harvestfield took over from them, Harvestfield is now the producer and marketing Aflasafe, which is to prevent Aflatoxin on our maize and our groundnuts,” Mr. Iliya said.

Mr. Iliya said the poisonous toxin was produced by a strain of fungi, found in contaminated and decaying grains, such as groundnuts, maize and soya.

He said the fungi was toxic and could cause liver cancer in humans, suppresses the immune system, abnormal swelling of organs, among others.

“It affects the liver and also affects our immune system. Apart from affecting the liver, it affects the immune system. It’s not only HIV that affects the immune system. You see that some people have their immune systems going down and they will say nobody knows its source, but it’s much consumption of food that contain Aflatoxin,” Mr. Iliya said.

According Mr. Iliya, the fungi could affect the crops at the production stage, hence the call on farmers to get good seeds, integrated pest management, good handling like sorting, drying, transportation and storage to reduce Aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts and maize.

He also said the best way to control Aflatoxin was by using Aflasafe, a bio-control product developed by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, which also increases high crop quality, job creation, improved productivity and marketability of the product.

The three-day training programme for the extension workers is being organised by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP and the Global Environment Facility, GEF, on Good Agricultural Practices, for maize and Groundnuts production and Family Nutrition.

The five year programme by UNDP and GEF is being implemented through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Development Programme of seven selected northern Nigeria States of Adamawa, Benue, Gombe, Nassarrawa, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina.

The goal of the project is to enhance long-term sustainability and resilience of food production systems in Nigeria, by building greater community resilience to climate risks and other shocks that cause food insecurity.