The Ministry of Agriculture will initially spend Sh400 million or 20 percent of the funds set aside for subsidy fertiliser to buy aflasafe ahead of next harvests.
A flasafe is a bio product for control of aflatoxin, a cancerous fungi that attacks cereals when not kept under the right moisture. The country requires Sh2.5 billion to buy aflasafe to cover all the 10 hotspot areas and Sh7.5 billion countrywide, Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said Monday.
Speaking after commissioning the aflasafe plant in Katumani, Machakos County, Mr Kiunjuri said the numerous cases of cancer in the county have been linked to aflatoxin.
“From the next planting season, we shall take 20 percent of the funds set aside for subsidised fertiliser will go towards provision of aflasafe,” said Mr Kiunjuri. The Government normally sets aside Sh3 billion annually for the provision of fertiliser subsidy across the country, where the State pays half of the cost. The CS said they have, however, only Sh2 billion for the exercise. A kilogramme of aflasafe goes for Sh200 (recommended retail price) and farmers require four kilogrammes of the product for an acre.
Mr Kiunjuri said the commissioned plant will cut cases of cancer by a significant rate as aflasafe efficiency has been proved to be 98 percent.
The plant has a capacity of 10 percent and currently has 120,000 kilos that is ready for supply to farmers. The CS says production will be enhanced i depending on the demand.
Mr Kiunjuri said the ministry will work with five counties from both maize and coffee producing counties where devolved units will be required to provide 50 percent of the cost.
In 2015 the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) established a plant that manufactures this chemical, which has been named Aflasafe KE01.
Aflasafe KE01, when applied to maize three weeks before flowering, reduces the aflatoxin contamination in the crop by 70 percent. The product costs Sh135 per kilo with a two kilo pack being enough to apply an acre of land.
Article was first published on the Business Daily.