New Agricultural Technology Will Help African Farmers
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New Agricultural Technology Will Help African Farmers

Lagos : Nigeria | Jun 22, 2010 at 9:36 PM PDT
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Stakeholders in Agriculture are of the opinion that the new technological breakthrough in the sector, aflasafe™, will greatly open up a window of opportunity for African farmers.

This indication was made by the Plant Pathologist, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, in a statement, in its Ibadan, Nigeria’s headquarters.

Hopes for a Brighter Future for African Farmers

He noted that the Biological control of aflatoxins using aflasafe™ has rekindled hopes for a brighter future for African farmers as the continent battles food contamination adding that with an initial investment outlay of between $1 and $3 million in an aflasafe™ manufacturing plant, investors are likely to reap about $133,000 (N20 million) annually.

“The technology, which uses ‘good fungus’ to fight the ‘bad ones’, had provided relief to hundreds of maize farmers in northern Nigeria—a region where more than 70 percent of the population depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood,” he also said.

Bandyopadhyay said that an investment in an aflasafe™ manufacturing plant in Nigeria would pay off considering the huge demand for quality maize in the country and his estimates showed that over 60 percent of harvested maize in Nigeria currently has high levels of aflatoxins and are prone to being rejected by the feed industry.

He observed that this single factor makes investment in this technology a viable option, not only for profit but also to improve the health of the people. “Produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, aflatoxins pose barriers to domestic and international trade of maize and peanuts in sub-Saharan Africa because of contaminated grains.

He continued: “Worse still, the contaminated grains have carcinogenic properties that endanger both humans and animals.”

Contamination Reduced by About 80 Percent

In his own contribution, the Coordinator, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Systemwide Program on Integrated Pest Management (CGIAR SP-IPM), Dr. Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon said that IITA, last year alone, reported that participating farmers in field trials using aflasafe™ reduced contamination by about 80 percent.

He stated: “Consequently, results from efficacy tests of the product have opened a window of opportunity for the private sector to tap into.”

Also speaking, during a United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO’s) convened meeting with the private sector in Lagos that offered IITA the chance to introduce aflasafe™, the Senior Laboratory Technology Manager with Animal Care Consults, Dr. Dotun Oladele said: “Aflatoxin contamination in grains is a major problem but is unknown to many farmers.

“When it attacks, some farmers assume it to be a ‘spiritual attack.’ Once there is aflatoxicosis, egg production drops and mortality of birds follows, the approach by IITA might be the best method of controlling aflatoxins” he added.

He noted that representatives of local investors under the aegis of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Business Group commended the technology and promised to sell the business model to their members with a view to finding an investor.

Lots of People Will be Interested in the New Technology

The Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Business Group-Nigeria, Dr. A.A. Roberts, said: “We know of a lot of people that will be interested in this technology and that have the capability to galvanize this idea into manufacturing.”

It’s to be noted that aflasafe™ is provisionally registered in Nigeria by IITA. The product was developed by IITA In collaboration with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and the Agriculture Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Further to that IITA is an international non-profit R4D organization established in 1967 and governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily by the CGIAR.

As an Institute, it develops agricultural solutions with its partners in order to tackle hunger and poverty. Its award winning research for development (R4D) is based on focused, authoritative thinking anchored on the development needs of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Institute works with partners in Africa and beyond to reduce producer and consumer risks, enhance crop quality and productivity, and also generate wealth from agriculture.

Sources: www.cgiar.org and www.iita.org

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Prof. Richard Mkandawire
Prof Richard Mkandawire, NEPAD Adviser for Agriculture
Success Uchime is based in Dumaguete, Central Visayas, Philippines, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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