In a 'previous life', John Dada who is the Director of Fantsuam Foundation in rural Nigeria, used to be a lecturer in microbiology. His PhD looked into aflatoxin contamination of grains like maize and groundnuts. Such contamination is very significant in societies where grains are stored for some time until they are needed. Poor storage conditions can contribute to the aflatoxin contamination.
Working in partnership
John wrote that Fantsuam Foundation is teaming up with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan (IITA) and the National Agricultural Extension Research Service of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria to raise awareness of the measures that can be taken to prevent the build up of aflatoxin in maize and groundnuts. High levels of aflatoxin in these staple crops poses serious health hazards in humans and live stock in addition to the major loss in farmers' income. Aflatoxin contamination of Nigeria's staple crops is well researched but it is only recently that the political and financial resources required to implement aggressive preventive measures have been mobilised.
Training the farmers started this week.
The first wave of pilot programmes is being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank. The IITA has developed a biological control of aflatoxin. As an implementing partner, Fantsuam Foundation will be working closely with about 500 small scale farmers who have a minimum of 2 hectares each to produce aflatoxin-free maize. This pilot is also exploring intervention in other sectors of the maize value chain.