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Expert speaks out on aflatoxins in maize

Example of maize with aflatoxins (PHOTO/Courtesy).

In the wake of Kenya’s recent ban on Ugandan maize over alleged aflatoxins that are above safety limits, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has stepped in to advise farmers.

Whereas the ban was lifted a few days later, Paul Mwambu, the Commissioner Crop Inspection and Certification at MAAIF, says there is need for more vigilance.

“Several factors are affecting the quality of maize and grains in general. Some are rain patterns, crop handling in the garden as well as harvesting. Meanwhile, transportation and storage also have a bearing on the quality,” he says.

“The stakeholders in the value chain need to streamline trading in grains because there needs to be registration of stores for grains. Even the vehicles that transport the grain should be specialised, not this business of ferrying cows one day and then maize another day. Also dust accumulates when one transports the maize using open pickups.”

As the Commissioner in charge of Certification and Inspection, Mwambu is confident Ugandan maize is of good quality and easily passes sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards but admits greed amongst traders is a threat to exports.

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“The aflatoxins problem is beyond what meets the eye. Matters are not helped by the fact that some businessmen buy the crop on the farm and this leads to harvesting the crop before maturity,” he says.

“There is need to harmonise the inspection with the Ministry of Trade in order to ensure that top qualify maize is produced.”

MAAIF

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