Production and distribution of Aflasafe KE01TM continue despite COVID-19 restrictions
As Kenya puts in place measures to protect the lives of its citizens from the devastating coronavirus disease, COVID-19, efforts to also protect lives by ensuring food is safe and free from the devastating aflatoxin have been going on. The team from the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and their private sector partners have been busy to ensure Aflasafe KE01, the effective natural product for controlling aflatoxin is widely available and on time to the farming community.
The Covid-19 pandemic and corresponding total lockdown of Nairobi have coincided with the long rains and soon it will be time to apply Aflasafe KE01 to the maize crop as recommended, 2-3 weeks before flowering.
The Aflasafe KE01 manufacturing plant at KALRO-Katumani station, which was officially commissioned in late 2019 by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, is now fully operational after recruitment of staff to run the factory and the Regional Lab for Mycotoxin Research and Capacity Development. KALRO is in charge of the product manufacturing while IITA provides technical backstopping in both facilities.
KALRO has since appointed eight regular staff to support manufacturing of Aflasafe KE01. Amongst the staff, Peter Kibet was appointed the manager in-charge of the manufacturing plant, assisted by Henry Momanyi as the supervisor and Nancy Njeru to coordinate all the Regional Mycotoxin Lab activities and technical support to the manufacturing plant. The new staff were officially inducted by the Director General of KALRO on 11 March. Once on board, they immediately embarked on a renewal of statutory obligations, licenses and design of packaging materials to reflect the new changes in production and distribution of Aflasafe KE01. The recruitment of the staff was a big step forward by the manufacturer towards the sustained running of the Aflasafe modular manufacturing plant.
Early this year, KALRO and IITA appointed the private sector consortium of KOPPERT, UPL and Arysta LifeScience as the local distribution and marketing agent for the Aflasafe KE01 in Kenya. The appointment followed a rigorous selection process as per KALRO protocols. Koppert’s initial target is to distribute a minimum of 160 tons of the product in 2020 and over 2,200 tons by the year 2024.
With the appointment of a local distributor, there was an immediate order of 70 tons from the government. Koppert has so far collected 73 tons and their current projection for 2020 stands at 190 tons. The factory has repackaged another 114 tons by working 24 hr/day with day and night shifts to meet the datelines set by the distributor and the urgency from the government. This was achieved despite the lockdown but following appropriate safety guidelines. All new packages were printed with new details of the distributor Koppert, manufacturer KALRO, and technology developer IITA. The factory plans to commence further production to meet the projection of 190 tons for 2020.
Koppert, recently signed a distribution contract with the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and expects orders for large quantities of Aflasafe KE01 from NCPB. NCPB has the advantage of large warehouses distributed countrywide and government mandate of sourcing and storing grains for the National Food Reserve.
Despite teething challenges and COVID-19 lockdowns, the KALRO-IITA-Koppert team is committed to making Aflasafe KE01 available to farmers and other value chain actors to make Kenyan staples safe from aflatoxins.