BUJUMBURA August 5th (ABP) – The National Center for Agribusiness Technologies (CNTA) intends soon to set up a factory to manufacture a phytosanitary product called Aflasafe which will be used in fields for the control of fungi that are the source of aflatoxins, harmful toxins responsible for serious diseases such as cancer in adults, dwarfism in children and diseases in animals.
This is what Mr. Christophe Gahungu, researcher at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Bujumbura office, told a check by ABP. He said that the IITA has set up Aflasafe Burundi, a product which is still in the field test stage and whose manufacturing techniques and equipment will be handed over to the CNTA to continue production. That work is being carried out within the framework of the Regional Integrated Agricultural Development Project in the Great Lakes (PRDAIGL) of which IITA is a technical partner at the level of the maize sector.
Maize, sorghum, groundnuts and soybeans are the crops most attacked by those aflatoxins causing fungi, Gahungu said. According to him, IITA has already done soil tests and has been able to identify 4 toxic fungi that are responsible for aflatoxins, and the establishment of Aflasafe has been possible.
That product will be cheaper to allow farmers to obtain it and use it in the fields, he said. Its price will range around 2000 BIF per kg. In maize fields, it will be used two to three weeks before flowering to prevent aflatoxins from spreading into the cob. The Aflasafe application method is done as you apply all fertilizers, by spraying on the fly. Until the Aflasafe is available, farmers are called upon to monitor their crops and remove those that are attacked in time.
Apart from the contamination observed in the fields, aflatoxins contaminate many foods commonly consumed in African countries, in particular under certain conditions: in dry weather near crop maturity, in case of high humidity during harvesting, or during inadequate drying and storage of crops.
Aflatoxins are responsible for cancer in adults and dwarfism in children who consume crops and animal products infected with aflatoxins, Gahungu said.