Press Release by IITA.

What do an affordable and effective biocontrol product to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnut and a technology to convert fresh cassava peel into high-quality livestock feed have in common?

Both aim to reduce postharvest losses and were declared winners during the postharvest innovation challenge at the first All Africa Postharvest Congress & Exhibition held 28-31 March, in Nairobi, Kenya. Secondly, IITA has been involved in developing both technologies, working alongside various partners. Each technology received a certificate and a cash prize of US$5000.

The innovation challenge sought to highlight emerging postharvest technologies and innovations that make a significant difference in reducing postharvest losses and that have high potential for scaling up.

Transforming cassava peel into livestock feed

IITA is collaborating with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to develop technologies to convert fresh cassava peel into high-quality livestock feed. Processing cassava generates millions of tons of peel, which go to waste.

“The technology is being piloted in Nigeria where 14 million tons of cassava peel is generated annually. The fresh cassava peel is grated finely, the water extracted using presses, and then sun dried. They are then milled finely or coarsely for feed for cows, chickens, and goats among other livestock,” said Iheanacho Okike, former ILRI country representative in Nigeria and who received the award on behalf of the team.

The team is also developing other products such as pellets and silage from grated and whole cassava peel. Other partners in the project are CIP, CGIAR Program on Roots and Tubers, and CGIAR program on Livestock and Fish.

Commercialization of the technology is under way with Niji Foods―a cassava-processing firm, which was selected to set up three cassava peel processing units with financial assistance from USAID.

Aflasafe–making food safe from deadly cancer-causing aflatoxins

Aflatoxin is a toxic and cancer-causing poison produced by certain types of the green fungus, Aspergillus flavus that naturally occur in the soil. It is a threat to food security, health, and incomes of smallholder farmers.

It renders food and feed unfit for human and livestock consumption, untradeable, and requires additional cost for disposal.

Aflasafe is an effective biocontrol product developed by IITA in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnut.

It makes use of non-aflatoxin producing strains of the green mold which is able to outcompete and displace the toxin producers.

Aflasafe was ranked as the third top technology of the innovation challenge. Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, IITA Principal Plant Pathologist who has been leading efforts to develop the technology, pitched the technology to the congress participants.

He also collected the award certificate and money on behalf of the team.

The Aflasafe technology, which has been found to effectively reduce aflatoxin contamination by between 80 and 98%, was developed by Peter Cotty in the United States. At IITA, working with many partners, we have adapted it for and are rolling it across many Africa countries,” he said.

“Aflasafe has been registered in four countries―Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, and The Gambia―and is at various stages of development in nine others,” said Bandyopadhyay.

In Nigeria, commercial production of Aflasafe is taking place at a model plant constructed at IITA’s Business Incubation Platform  while construction of similar plants is under way in Kenya and will begin in Senegal in 2017.

The overall winner of the postharvest innovation challenge was the DryCard developed by the Horticulture Innovation Lab and the University of California at Davies (UC Davies).

Overall winner

Group photo of aflasafe team

Group photo of aflasafe team

It is a low-cost and easy-to-use technology that uses colored strips to measure moisture levels in grain.

High moisture levels in stored grain lead to attack by mold and spoilage as well as aflatoxin contamination, if attacked by the aflatoxin-producing mold. DryCard was developed by UC Davis scientists Michael Reid and James Thompson.

Photo: IITA (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)