The Federal government on Tuesday called for the management and control of aflatoxin in Nigeria’s crop value chains.
Dr Oyeleke Razak, Head of Nutrition, Crop Production, and Food Safety, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated this at a workshop in Abuja with the theme: ”Scaling Solutions to Control Aflatoxin in Nigeria”.
Razak explained that aflatoxin was a natural poison from some types of aspergillus fungus, primarily aspergillus falvus, found in soil and dead or decaying plants.
He further explained that aflatoxin infected crops from flowering until maturity, with Maize and groundnuts being most susceptible.
”Aflatoxin causes liver diseases, including cancer, causes stunting and growth retardation in children, it also suppresses the immune system. Aflatoxin causes abnormal swelling of the stomach, depending on the dose, it can also cause death.
”You cannot see, smell or taste aflatoxin, yet both people and animals are very sensitive to aflatoxin, but nature also provides non-toxic types of aspergillus falvus.
”When Aflasafe is applied correctly, these friendly types push out the poison producers, Aflasafe is a natural product working with nature to protect our food,” he said.
The President, Maize Association of Nigeria, Mr Bello Abubakar, who urged farmers to adopt Aflasafe, said that it contained four non-toxin-producing atoxigenic strains of aspergillus falvus native to Nigeria.
Abubakar also explained that the four useful strains were coated on roasted sorghum grains as aflasafe, which is a cost effective, bio control product that reduces crop aflatoxin content from field to storage.
”The benefits of Aflasafe are displacement of toxigenic aspergillus species, it allows production of aflatoxin safe crops, improve family health and improve livestock productivity.
”It also provides better trading opportunities, guarantees zero reject of Nigeria’s agro-commodity exports and guarantees food safety,” he said.
Aflasafe was developed by the Ibadan-based International institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service, University of Bonn, Germany, and the University of Ibadan.
The Federal government distributing Aflasafe to farmers at no cost.