There was increased adoption of post-harvest loss reduction practices across the Vitamin A Cassava (VAC) and Vitamin A Maize (VAM) value chains; an increase in the private sector-led aflatoxin-safe foods in markets; healthier foods; improved food safety and livelihoods; less food loss/waste; and enhanced exportable foods. Knowledge and practice of strategies for reducing losses in post-harvest quality and quantity increased in Nigeria, with more gender inclusion resulting in better health, income generation, and stronger multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Food losses do not merely reduce the food available for human consumption but also increase the costs of waste management, greenhouse gas production, and wastage of scarce resources used in agricultural production. The overall objective of the project was to improve the adoption of post-harvest loss reduction practices across the VAC and VAM value chains in Nigeria, with further emphasis on aflatoxin awareness and control strategies for VAM, among key value chain actors (i.e., farmers, input dealers, aggregators, transporters, and food processors) in eight Nigerian states (Anambra, Cross-River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Oyo, and Osun). Sensitization campaigns were conducted on aflatoxin, targeting maize value chain actors across the supply chain. The key outcomes are: (i) the adoption of aflatoxin control practices and the use of Aflasafe among VAM value chain actors (i.e., input dealers, farmers, aggregators, transporters, and food processors); and (ii) the use of DryCard, Aflasafe, and PICS bags as innovations for good post-harvest management practices with mostly youth and women.
“Failure to take effective measures to limit the harmful effects of exposure to hazardous substances on human health and well-being represents a breach of State obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill all human rights.” – United Nations
Nigeria’s health and trade has been affected by food quality and quantity losses. Aflasafe was promoted as a bioprotectant that reduces quality losses from aflatoxin contamination which commences pre-harvest with elevated concentrations resulting in multiple export rejects and an increased disease burden. PICS bags were promoted as hermetic storage bags that reduce insect populations during storage and resultant bulk and quality losses, including mycotoxins. Furthermore, by reducing the misuse of pesticides in insect management, PICS bags reduce risk of human exposure to pesticide residues. An export ban of Nigerian produce due to high levels of pesticide residues has occurred. The adoption of PICS bags in storage has minimized improper use of pesticides and reduced insect damage. The DryCard technology was promoted as a reusable, low-cost technology that enables moisture to be monitored, especially during storage. High moisture during storage encourages insect infestation, mold damage, and mycotoxin contamination.
A total of 176 extension agents were trained on good pre-harvest and post-harvest strategies for aflatoxin management, and they conducted stepped-down training for 960 value chain actors. Actors were linked with Harvestfield Industries Limited and Lela Agro Limited, the commercial manufacturers of Aflasafe and PICS bags in Nigeria, respectively. Deliberate efforts were made regarding gender inclusion, ensuring representation of 30% of women. This project also hosted a webinar that disseminated information for improving export potential by avoiding pitfalls in the export market and disseminated radio messages for sensitization to target audiences.
To promote the sustainability of aflatoxin management, the Food Convergence Innovation (FCI) – Nigeria convention on aflatoxin management was convened and attended by 55 participants from 22 organizations. An FCI-Nigeria advocacy platform was established, a multi-stakeholder memorandum of understanding was developed and a communique was disseminated. This platform is focused on converging capabilities among private, public, and development actors in aflatoxin management nationwide, thus contributing to improvements in food safety.
To increase capacity for testing, benefiting domestic consumers and exports, mycotoxin testing hubs were established in two locations for in situ rapid testing. Neogen rapid testing equipment for mycotoxins was purchased and handed over for in situ mycotoxin analysis to one private sector actor — Cooperation Forum for Aflatoxin-Reduced Agricultural Products comprising over 30 enterprises — and one public sector actor, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the national agency responsible for food regulation.
Header photo: Packaging aflasafe into small size polythene bags in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria. Photo by IITA