Low Level Aflatoxin Groundnut Imports Hurt Local Farmers

Groundnuts with aflatoxins

Consuming food intoxicated in Aflatoxins can be very hazardous to your health. In children, consuming food that is contaminated with this fungus could subject them to stunted growth and in future, it could cause cancer of the liver.

Food security in Kenya has been a major concern for the welfare of the citizen and the accumulation of aflatoxins in grains consumed locally has always thrown the country a step back in the fighting of hunger and famine in some part of the country.

Recently, the government declared at least 2.3 million bags of maize unfit for human and livestock consumption and trade as a result of aflatoxin contamination even as the country, still grapples with the shortage of maize.

A State Research agency has made it public that groundnuts in Kenya have high levels of aflatoxin than any other crop produced locally, forcing processors of groundnuts to resort to imports from the likes of Malawi and Uganda with low levels of the fungal toxins, as the local crop high levels of aflatoxin render it unfit for consumption.

“The local groundnuts do not meet our specifications in terms of quality and that is why we opt for imports to meet our manufacturing requirements,” said Moses Mwangi, the firm’s chief executive officer.

The recommended level of aflatoxin in a given grain is 10 parts per billion. At one point the popular Nuteez peanut was banned from the shelves by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) after it was found to have more than the required levels of aflatoxin but was reinstated after compliance.

In 2015 Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO) and other international partners established a plant that manufactures biochemical called aflasafe, which has the ability to tame aflatoxin. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, KARLO will train farmers on good agronomical practices that would help in reducing the levels of the aflatoxin in the groundnuts. It will also give farmers advise on the type of groundnuts to be planted in a given area in order to boost their productivity.