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AGRI 2023

Grace Gachara

Grace Gachara, Speaker at Agriculture Conferences
Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco
Title : Drivers of Post-Harvest Aflatoxin Contamination: Evidence Gathered from Knowledge Disparities and Field Surveys of Maize Farmers in the Rift-Valley Region of Kenya


Maize-dependent populations in sub-Saharan Africa are continually exposed to aflatoxin poisoning owing to their regular consumption of this dietetic cereal. Being a staple in Kenyan households, consumption of maizebased meals is done almost daily, thereby exposing consumers to aflatoxicoses. This study assessed awareness levels, knowledge disparities and perceptions regarding aflatoxin contamination at the post-harvest phase among farmers in the Rift-valley region of Kenya. Households were randomly selected using a Geographical Positioning System (GPS) overlay of the agro-ecological zones within Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in 212 smallholder and large-scale farms. The study documented the demographic profiles of farmers, knowledge, awareness and perceptions of aflatoxin contamination using a pre-designed structured questionnaire. Most farmers were familiar with aflatoxins and the adverse effects they present to health (61.32%). Almost all the farmers (94.37%) were aware of storage molds and food spoilage fungi. However, few farmers adopted good post-harvest practices (PHPs) such as avoiding premature harvests (49.8%), using well-ventilated storage spaces (44.6%), grain sorting (30.5%), proper drying of maize (17.8%) and using hermetic bags for storage (30.5%). Conclusively, intensified farmer education is required to train farmers on good PHPs to protect their maize from aflatoxigenic fungi and aflatoxin accumulation. Keywords: stored maize; aflatoxins; post-harvest practices; Hybrid-6 series maize cultivars; food security; Riftvalley; Kenya.


Grace Gachara is a Kenyan female scholar who is passionate about using science to solve day-to-day problems. Born and breed in the rural outskirts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Grace is well versed with the concepts of food scarcity and food shortage; both of which have contributed immensely to shaping the trajectory of her career as a plant microbiologist. She has over ten years’ experience working in this field where most of her work focuses on understanding the impact of fungal toxins (mycotoxins) on maize cropping systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Her work demonstrates the importance of finding lasting solutions to recurrent mycotoxin outbreaks in Kenya, especially given the fact that this East African country remains highly food insecure, a situation that is further aggravated by the adverse effects of climate change. Together with her local community, Grace helps farmers and agronomists to adopt alternative methods of farming, such as those that move way from rain-fed agriculture, overreliance on mono-cropping and even planting novel plant hybrids that are more drought, heat and stress tolerant. Currently, Grace is pursuing her doctoral degree in Marrakech, Morocco where the focal point of her research is the development of novel non-toxigenic fungal strains that can be used to combat the active producers of mycotoxins within a Kenyan context.

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