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FARMERS PERCEPTION AND THE HIGHLIGHTS OFTHE SOURCES OF THE CHRONIC AFLATOXIN CONTAMINATION AMONGST THE INHABITANTS OF THE SOUTH-EASTERN REGION INKENYA

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There are factors that contribute to aflatoxin contamination like conducive ecological zones, stressed crops, virulent Aspergillus strains and unconventional agricultural practices. Kenyans especially in the South-Eastern region are exposed to regular doses of mycotoxins. Even after campaigns on aflatoxin mitigation in 2004, this region has had continuous cases of aflatoxin poisoning. These have not been systematically studied to identify the key entry points and contributory factors. This research was instituted to evaluate the farmers’ perception of the factors which contribute to chronic aflatoxin contamination in maize grains along the pre-harvest, post-harvest and marketing stages of the production chain. We studied the moisture content of maize on seven major highway centers and found that the maize was largely within the accepted levels of moisture of 11-14%. The agri-practices investigated showed that most farmers knew the basic standard practices but were not consistent in adhering to them. We found 88%approved that close spacing of maize can stress crop, 87% agreed that poor farm plant nutrition causes stress, 78 % agreed that plant residue act as reservoirsfor fungi. It was remarkable that 95 % of farmers agreed that delayed harvesting and storing of grains when the moisture content is more than 13% encouraged growth of the fungus was the main contributor of aflatoxin contamination. Furthermore, 91% indicated that, if maize combs were dropped on the soil during harvest, it increased the chances of fungal contamination. 80% of farmers agreed that the use of plastic bags to store maize in combs after harvesting could cause contamination. However, most farmers could not adequately relate contamination with the health repercussions of aflatoxin contamination. Hence, there is need to train and constantly contact understandable-sensitizations of all stakeholders; farmers, extension staff, researchers, traders, consumers, on the dangers of aflatoxin contamination along the whole maize production chain.
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Farmers Perception and the Highlights ofthe Sources of the Chronic
Aflatoxin Contamination amongst the Inhabitants of the South-Eastern
Region inKenya
Rhoda N. Kuisa1, Josphert N. Kimatu2, Titus I. Kanui1
1 South Eastern Kenya University, Department of Animal Science in South Eastern Kenya University, P.O. Box
170-90200, Kitui, Kenya
2 South Eastern Kenya University, Department of Biology, P. O. Box 170, Kitui, Kenya
Abstract
There are factors that contribute to aflatoxin contamination like conducive ecological zones, stressed crops, virulent
Aspergillus strains and unconventional agricultural practices. Kenyans especially in the South-Eastern region are exposed
to regular doses of mycotoxins. Even after campaigns on aflatoxin mitigation in 2004, this region has had continuous
cases of aflatoxin poisoning. These have not been systematically studied to identify the key entry points and contributory
factors. This research was instituted to evaluate the farmers’ perception of the factors which contribute to chronic aflatoxin
contamination in maize grains along the pre-harvest, post-harvest and marketing stages of the production chain. We
studied the moisture content of maize on seven major highway centers and found that the maize was largely within the
accepted levels of moisture of 11-14%. The agri-practices investigated showed that most farmers knew the basic
standard practices but were not consistent in adhering to them. We found 88%approved that close spacing of maize can
stress crop, 87% agreed that poor farm plant nutrition causes stress, 78 % agreed that plant residue act as reservoirsfor
fungi. It was remarkable that 95 % of farmers agreed that delayed harvesting and storing of grains when the moisture
content is more than 13% encouraged growth of the fungus was the main contributor of aflatoxin contamination.
Furthermore, 91% indicated that, if maize combs were dropped on the soil during harvest, it increased the chances of
fungal contamination. 80% of farmers agreed that the use of plastic bags to store maize in combs after harvesting could
cause contamination. However, most farmers could not adequately relate contamination with the health repercussions of
aflatoxin contamination. Hence, there is need to train and constantly contact understandable-sensitizations of all
stakeholders; farmers, extension staff, researchers, traders, consumers, on the dangers of aflatoxin contamination along
the whole maize production chain.
Key Words
Aflatoxin, Post-harvest, Maize, Production Chain, Mitigation, Aspergillus flavus, Animal feed, Moisture content
Introduction
The exposure of April 2004 was one of the largest documented aflatoxicosis outbreaks occurring in rural Kenya which
resulted in 317 cases and 125 deaths. It was assumed that the aflatoxin contaminated maize grown and eaten on family
farms was major source of the outbreak, but later studies have proved otherwise. In a survey of 65 markets and 243 maize
vendors, 350 maize products were collected from most affected districts, 55 % of the maize product had aflatoxin levels
greater than Kenyan regulatory limit of 20 ppb, 35 % had levels more than 100 ppb and 7 % had levels more than 1000
ppbLewis et al., 2005). Though many nations suffering from aflatoxin exposure have normally established maximum
allowable aflatoxin standards in food; there is little if any evaluation or enforcement of these standards in many rural areas.
The sources for the aflatoxin contamination has not fully been established Food from subsistence farmers and in local
markets is rarely formally inspected for aflatoxin contamination. Furthermore, there has been an increase in “confined”
poultry farming in the lower eastern region. This has been due to the demand for eggs and chicken meat in the urban
centers. Studies have shown that poultry is highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning than ruminants. Hence there is need
to study the possibility of human chronic poisoning through animal feeds as a source of aflatoxin. Maize and animal feeds
are hypothesized as major sources of aflatoxin if they are not properly handled.
Aspergillus flavus infection affects maize along its value chain; it can infect maize through air borne spores in the field
during grain filling, during storage and handling. Pre-harvest contaminations occur when there are mechanical injuries to
maize, damage by pest to the plant parts or seed. Toxins can be produced under high temperature, drought and terminal
water stress prior to harvest. Post-harvest contaminations increase when the fungi continue to grow and produce
aflatoxins under high moisture and warm temperatures. This process is enhanced if farm grain drying is delayed. Damage
by insects or rats can facilitate mold invasion and toxin production during storage (UNIDO project report 2008).The poor
storage methods used by most farmers encourage the growth of the fungus. Poor handling methods during harvest,
transporting of maize to the store from the farm also expose the crop to the attack by the fungus. Currently over 5 billion
people worldwide are at risk of chronic exposure to aflatoxin in food (project report Malawi, 2008).
The outbreaks of aflatoxicosis every year since the major outbreak that occurred in 2004 (Muture and Ogana, 2005)
suggests that the population is exposed to aflatoxins in their diet
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Hence, this research aims at investigating the perception of farmers on the factors that can continuously cause
contamination of maize and animal feeds. The consumption of the contaminated food can have both carcinogenic and
hepatotoxic effects in human body, depending on the duration and level of exposure. Studies have shown that the human
gastrointestinal tract rapidly absorbs aflatoxins after consumption of contaminated food, and the circulatory system
transports the aflatoxins to the liver. This can manifest as hepatotoxicity or, in severe cases, fulminate liver failure and
death (Etzel, 2002, Fung and Clark, 2004,). The Kenya government has been keen to follow and deal with outbreak of
diseases but studies have shown that chronic intake of aflatoxins may be more serious than a onetime higher level of
aflatoxin contamination (Peers and Linsell, 1973, 1997, Wogan, 1975, McGlashan, 1982).The medical expenses and
economic implications of aflatoxin poisoning make it necessary to evaluate and come up with a sustainable solution Hence
it is important to analyze and identify the key entry points of mycotoxins. This study has hypothesized that there are points
in the production and supply chain of grains which need to be identified. Entry through animal feed is another area which
needs to be investigated.
Methodology
The area of study was in the Machakos and Makueni Counties in the South-Eastern part of Kenya. The market centers
which were used in this study are traversing the two counties in this order:Machakos, Kola, Mukuyuni, Kilala, Wote,
Kathonzweni, and Mbuvo. It covers a distance of about 200 km. The survey was done using questionnaires prepared to
get farmers perception and practice in the various phases in the production value chain of maize that is pre-harvest,
harvest, post-harvest and marketing and consumption where the contamination of the aflatoxin occurs. Also to find out the
perceptions about how animal feeds could also be contaminated. Questionnaires were used to collect information from
individual farmers and farmer groups and field agriculture and extension officers. A minimum of 30 farmers in each market
and surrounding areas were interviewed. A minimum of 249 questionnaires were administered
Validity and Reliability of Research Instruments
The questionnaire was pre-tested and corrected to make it valid and realistic and to avoid bias before it is administered.
The first draft of the questionnaire was made and given to a team of extension officers both agriculture and livestock in
Kathonzweni and Makueni districts.The officers went through the questionnaire and made corrections. The final draft was
used to collect the qualitative data.The interviewers went through the questionnaire to understand the contents and also
assist the farmers who had problems with English language .A questionnaire for trader and agro-vet was also done and
they were interviewed.
Data sampling procedure
The samples were collected in the main towns and markets where the majority of people buy food and animal feed.This
included Machakos town, Kola, Mukuyuni, Kilala, Wote, Kathonzweni and Mbuvo. Random sampling of processed and
non-processed food and feed for human and animals (dairy and poultry) was done. The food samples of whole maize was
picked from both whole sale and retail food stores and individual farmers in the markets and in the surrounding farms. .A
minimum of 30 samples per site for food was collected. The sample were selected from all sites selected at random to
avoid bias depending on the size of the town/-market centers.A total of 214 samples were collected.
The moisture content analysis
The maize crop samples were collected and immediately the moisture content of each sample was measured using a
moisture meter (Grain moisture meter GMK, 303RS from won Hitech co ltd Gmk® from Japan) and the readings were
recorded. This was done for all the samples from the 7 market centers. A list for all the samples of maize was made with
the name of the farmer or the store from where it was obtained, the moisture content and also the source of the food.
Where local food from farmers or from outside like Tanzania, Busia, North Rift-valley, Shimba hills was recorded. Another
list of the dairy feeds and poultry feeds was also made with name of the agro-vet or store of farmer and the name of the
company or if it was locally homemade. The analysis of the data on maize and the feed was later done using the SPSS
version 16.0,2007, and cross tabulation done for correlations.
From each sample of maize collected few grains were picked at random. The grains were placed into the moisture meter
instrument where the maize grains were ground and measurement of the MC done by pressing a button written measure.
The readings of the M.C was repeated 2 to 3 times and the average obtained by pressing the button written average.
This was recorded and the procedure repeated for all the samples. For animal feeds which are formulated having high
cereal content the procedure is the same. The feed was already processed so there was no need of grinding.
Data analysis techniques
Data analysis for the questionnaires was done using SPSS® version 16.0, 2007.and data analysis for moisture content of
maize and animal feeds was done using SPSS ® version 16.0,2007.
After the maize samples were collected the MC was measured and recorded poultry feeds and dairy feeds. The MC
figures were entered to the SPSS for analysis and the statistics were obtained through one way ANOVAs. The responses
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on farmers’ perception on various agronomic practice of pre-harvest, harvest, post-harvest, The chi-square test was done
to determine level of significance. If the level is less than 5 % (P<0. 05). It is significant different if the level is more than
5% (P>0.05) then there is no significant difference.
Results
Perception of farmers on agronomic practices
In this study, famers were asked to give their perception on the influence of different agronomic practices on aflatoxin
contamination and their responses were measured on a 5 point Likert type scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly
agree.
Farmers’ perception of Pre harvest Agronomic practices in maize
The findings on famers’ perception on the influence of different pre harvest agronomic practices on aflatoxin contamination
are presented in table 3.
Table 1Farmers’ perception of Pre- harvest Agronomic practices
Activity
Strongly
disagree
Disagree
Do not
know
Agree
Strongly
agree
F
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
X2
P value
Very close
spacing of maize
7
11
5
9
4
137
57
75
31
276.6
0.000
Plant residue acts
as a reservoir for
the fungi
7
23
10
24
10
148
62
37
16
272.0
0.000
Poor plant
nutrition causes
stress
9
12
5
11
5
152
64
55
23
314.9
0.000
Late planting
reduces
increases maize
crop stress
7
12
5
21
9
157
66
42
18
326.8
0.000
Late weeding of
maize causes
stress
4
5
2
16
7
157
66
57
24
350.9
0.000
The results showed that majority of the respondents agreed that pre harvest agronomic practices influences aflatoxin
contamination in maize (Table 4.1). For instance, 62% of the respondents agreed that maize plant residue acted as a
reservoir for the fungi which causes contamination. Chi square analysis showed significant association between farmers’
perceptions and the different pre harvest agronomic practices (p < 0.000).
Farmers’ perception about harvest agronomic practices
The findings on farmers’ perception about harvest agronomic practices in maize are presented in table 4. The results
showed that majority (over 60%) of the respondents agreed that different harvest agronomic practices carried out by
farmers had an influence to aflatoxin contamination in maize (median = 4). Chi square analysis showed a significant
association between the farmers’ perceptions and the activities (p<0.000)
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Table 2.Farmers’ perception of harvest agronomic practices
Agronomic
practices
Strongly
disagree
Disagree
Do not
know
Agree
Strongly
agree
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
Median
X2
P value
Delayed
harvesting of
maize when
moisture content
is more than 15%
MC
3
1
6
3
5
2
147
62
78
33
4
341.8
0.000
Farmers harvest
maize cobs and
throw them on the
ground(soil).
1
0
18
8
3
1
155
65
62
26
4
351.0
0.000
Farmers use
plastic bags (jute
bags) to store
harvested maize
9
4
36
15
4
2
141
59
49
21
4
256.3
0.000
Farmers’ first cut
and heap maize
crop with stoppers
before harvesting
4
2
36
15
7
3
136
57
56
23
4
242.0
0.000
Farmers’ perception on Post-harvest Agronomic practices
Results show that majority of farmers agreed to most of post-harvest practices (median = 4) on maize. Although most farmers
(53%) disagree that most farmers use canvas when drying their maize (Table 5). Chi square results show a significant
association between farmers’ responses and the post-harvest activity (p = 0.000).
Table 3. Farmers’ perception of Post- harvest Agronomic practices
Agronomic
practices
Strongly
disagree
Disagree
Do not
know
Agree
Strongly
agree
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
Median
X2
P value
Most farmers use
canvas to dry
their maize when
drying.
15
6
113
47
11
5
78
33
22
9
2
172.8
0.000
Most farmers
shell maize by
beating the
combs when in
gunny bags
2
1
16
7
3
1
156
65
62
26
4
356.2
0.000
Most maize
stores are not
well ventilated
10
4
23
10
7
3
160
67
39
16
4
342.6
0.000
Most farmers do
not use sisal
bags to package
maize after
shelling
4
2
19
8
7
3
150
63
59
25
4
313.4
0.000
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Inadequate
inspect ion of
maize stores
16
7
74
31
12
5
114
48
23
10
4
166.9
0.000
Traders’ responses of different practices
Traders’ opinions of different practices on maize were sought and their responses are presented in Table 6. The results
indicated that 84. 1% of respondents agreed that maize traders have no moisture meters while 11.5% strongly agreed on
the same (Table 4.4). The findings also showed 80.5% of respondents agreed that traders store maize in small and poorly
ventilated stores. In general, majority of the respondents were in agreement that the different practices carried out by
maize traders could influence aflatoxin contamination. Chi square results showed significant difference between the
traders’ response and the different activities with p= 0.000
Table 4: Traders’ perceptions of different post-harvest practices
strongly
disagree
disagree
do not know
Agree
strongly
agree
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
F
%
Me
dia
n
X2
P
Most traders have
no moisture meters
to measure MC of
maize.
0
0.00
3
2.70
2
1.80
95
84.10
13
11.5
4
212.91
2
.000
The Maize from
farmers is not dry
enough
0
0.00
42
32.80
0
0.00
77
60.20
9
7.00
4
54.203
.000
Most traders do not
use sisal sacks to
package the maize
but jute bags
0
0.00
7
5.50
0
0.00
10
9
85.20
12
9.40
4
154.98
4
.000
The maize in sacks
in heaped together
no ventilation.
0
0.00
16
12.50
0
0.00
10
3
80.50
9
7.00
4
128.54
7
.000
Moisture content analysis
The collected maize samples and their moisture contents from the seven towns/markets in SE Kenya are tabulated in
Table 8 below. They show an almost acceptable levels of moisture content of below 15%. The average are calculated
from 32 samples.
0
5
10
15
% Average
Markets in the South Eastern Region
Machakos
Kola
Mukuyuni
Kilala
Wote
Kathonzweni
Mbuvo
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Figure 1. Comparative percentage of Maize Sample Moisture contents from the Machakos, Kola, Mukuyuni, Kilala,
Wote, Kathozweni and Mbuvo markets as analyzed using random sampling of at least 30 samples in each market.
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) on moisture content in maize
A single factor ANOVA model was performed to establish whether there was a significant difference in average moisture
content in maize among the seven towns. The overall average moisture content was found to significantly vary among the
seven towns at 0.05 level of significance F (6, 214) = 44.44, p = 0.000.
Table 5: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) on moisture content in maize from the Machakos, Kola,
Mukuyuni, Kilala, Wote, Kathozweni and Mbuvo markets.
Source
Sum of Squares
Df (n-1)
Mean Square
F
Sig.
Markets
119.597
6
19.933
44.447
.000
Error
92.831
207
.448
Total
31861.990
214
The analysis shows significantly higher moisture content in maize at Mukuyuni town compared to all other towns. A few
towns such as Mbuvo and Kilala towns and Kathonzweni and Machakos did not register significant difference in average
moisture content in maize.
Poul
try
Fee
d
Sam
ples
Mois
ture
cont
ents
anal
ysis
Figure 2Poultry Feed Samples Moisture contents in the seven markets/towns of SE Kenya
Poultry feed moisture content Analysis of variance
Single factor ANOVA model was performed to establish the presence of significant differences in average moisture
content in poultry feeds among the seven towns. The overall average moisture content was found to significantly vary
among the seven towns at 0.05 level of significance F (6, 189) = 9.325, p = 0.000.
Table 6Analysis of variance (ANOVA) on moisture content of poultry feeds from the Machakos, Kola,
Mukuyuni, Kilala, Wote, Kathozweni and Mbuvo markets.
Source
Type III Sum of Squares
Df (n-1)
Mean Square
F
Sig.
Maize Markets
14.304
6
2.384
9.325
0.00
Error
46.529
182
.256
Total
23077.470
189
9
9.5
10
10.5
11
11.5
12
12.5
% Average Moisture Content
Machakos
Kola
Mukuyuni
Kilala
Wote
Kathonzweni
Mbuvo
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In the presence of significant average moisture differences in the towns, pairwise mean comparison were performed using
mean standard errors and the results as shown in above. There was significantly high moisture content in poultry feeds in
Machakos town (by 0.04530-0.9108) compared to all the other towns. However, no significant difference in moisture
content in Kola, Mukuyuni, Kathonzweni, and Mbuvo towns.
Dairy feed samples Moisture content analysis
Figure 3 . Dairy feed samples Moisture contents from the Machakos, Kola, Mukuyuni, Kilala, Wote,
Kathozweni and Mbuvo markets.
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) on moisture content in dairy feeds
A single factor ANOVA model was performed to establish presence of significant differences in average moisture content
in dairy feeds among the seven towns. The overall average moisture content was found to significantly vary among the
seven towns at 0.05 level of significance F (6, 121) = 2.865, p = 0.012.
Table 7: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) on moisture content in dairy feeds
Source
Type III Sum of Squares
Df n-1)
Mean Square
F
Sig.
Markets
6.854
6
1.142
2.865
.012
Error
48.241
121
.399
Total
15302.040
128
In the presence of significant average moisture differences in the towns, pair-wise mean comparison were performed
using mean standard errors and the results as shown in figure 8. Kilala, Mukuyuni and Machakos registered significantly
higher moisture contents in dairy feeds compared to the other towns though they didn’t differ significantly within the towns.
Mbuvo, Kathonzweni, Wote and kola recorded relatively same moisture contents in dairy feeds
Combined analysis of the maize, poultry and dairy feed moisture contents
Using the R software version 3.3.1 (2016-06-21) -- "Bug in Your Hair". Copyright (C) 2016 The R Foundation for Statistical
Computing Platform: i386-w64-mingw32/i386 (32-bit). We compared the p values of the maize, poultry and dairy feeds
and found that the moisture contents of the three sources were significantly different (Table ) below. However there was a
closer relationship between the maize and the poultry. Suggesting a higher consumption of poultry feed than maize feed in
the area. Previous studies showed that poultry feed on aflatoxin contaminated feed could be transmitted to the eggs and
meat of poultry. This pointing that this could be a unknown source of aflatoxin poisoning in the south eastern region of
Kenya.
9
9.5
10
10.5
11
11.5
12
% Average Moisture Content
Markets
Machakos
Kola
Mukuyuni
Kilala
Wote
Kathonzweni
Mbuvo
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Table 8. P values of maize, poultry feed and dairy feed moisture content in the South Eastern region in
Kenya.
Moisture Content Combination
M + P
M + P
0.01398
P + D
0.3890
P value 0.02420
M = maize moisture content; P = Poultry feed moisture content; D = dairy feed moisture content
DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
According to the results obtained on farmers’ perception on different pre- harvest agronomic practices, make if clear first
that the key entry points of aflatoxin contamination are, close spacing of maize (less than 90 ×30 cm), poor plant nutrition
(inadequate fertilizer and manure application), late planting, and late weeding which cause stress on the maize crop and
encourages growth of fungi (mycotoxin) which causes contamination. A range of 84 % to 90 % of farmers responded
positively on the pre-harvest activities. The chi-square analysis on the pre-harvest activities registered a significant
difference with p< 0.05
The results agree with Burns et al, 2003 factors that increases the risk of aflatoxin contamination in the field (pre-harvest)
contributes intensively in managing aflatoxin. Management practice that reduce the incidence of aflatoxin contamination in
the field include timely planting maintaining plant densities, spacing, proper plant nutrition, Burn el al ( 2003).This is
because the maize plant will be healthy and the maize grains (cob) which will resist attach by the mycotoxins.Also,
according to Diener et al 1987 , who found out that in Africa crops are cultivated mainly under rain fed conditions with
inadequate fertilizers and pesticides application. This management also promotes aflatoxin. Contamination byA.Flavus.
On harvest agronomic practices the results obtained indicates that the farmers response agreed on the harvest
agronomic practices ranging between 70-95 % .These are the key entry points of mycotoxin contamination .They include;
delayed harvesting when M.C is high, harvesting and allowing contact of maize and soil ,use of plastic (jute) bags to put
harvested maize cobs, and heaping of maize with stoppers before harvesting .The high M.C encourages growth of
mycotoxin, maize contact with the contaminated soil and heaping of maize with stoppers also encourages growth of
mycotoxin and also the poor aeration of plastic bags due to increased temperature within the bags. The chi square results
on the harvest agronomic practices indicated significant difference with p<0.05. This in agreement with Borgemeister et ,al
1998 who found out that extended field drying could result in serious grain losses during storage as such harvesting
immediately after physiological maturity is recommended to combat aflatoxin problems. Kaaya et al 2006.observed that
the aflatoxin level increased 4 times by the third week and more than 7 times when maize harvest was delayed for 4
weeks. Also in agreement with Muthomi et al (2009) that the fungal inoculums is present in the soil and should be avoided
during harvest.
On post-harvest agronomic practices, the results indicate that majority of farmers (more than 50 .%) do not use canvas to
dry maize but throw on the ground where the soil may be contaminated. Also 91% of farmers shell maize by beating which
breaks the grain exposing them to fungal growth. While 84 % of farmers agreed that poor storage encourages growth of
fungus. This is due to poor ventilation and keeping the maize on the floor without wooden flat forms. Also poor package of
shelled maize is another entry point where 88 % of farmers do not use sisal bags but jute bags which are not well aerated
and this encourages mycotoxin growth. Finally inadequate inspection of stores to monitor the status of maize in stores is
another key entry factor .The contaminated maize should be removed and destroyed before it spreads . 58 % of farmers
agreed that they don’t inspect their stores.
The study agrees with Hell et al (2008 ) who found out that Aflatoxin contamination can increase 10 fold in a 3 day period
when field harvested maize is stored with high moisture content ,Also Constructing modern houses which are large and
well ventilated are expensive they store in poly propylene bags which are not air tight, which also facilitates aflatoxin
development, Hell et al 2000, Udo et al ( 2000). In the local market of SE is informal marketing system thus its difficult to
regulate and establish proper system for handling grain post-harvest especially for small scale traders and also in the
open air market system also support spoilage due to weather changes and abrupt rainfall that wet the grains as they are
not covered appropriately (Mutegi et al 2009).The traders response indicate that inadequate use of moisture meter by
most traders to measure the M.C of maize on reception especially when the M.C is more than 15% is a key cause of
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afflatoxin contamination. NB ;p=0.000 means that there was significant difference on the farmers perception on the
agronomic practices listed (p<0.05)
RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
Training farmers on the right agronomic practices like; right spacing of maize, application of adequate fertilizer and
manure, timely harvesting, proper drying , and proper storage of the maize The training of farmers is important so as to
reduce or eradicate the aflatoxins contamination in the maize production chain. Also, training traders on proper storage of
grains to reduce or eliminate contamination by the aflatoxin. strengthening surveillance of aflatoxin contamination in S. E.
Kenya by the extension staff of ministry of agriculture and health, supported by devolved governments .The surveillance
will an able the ministries concerned to take necessary action in case of contamination .Also training and sensitizing all
stakeholders (i.e), farmers, extension staff, researchers ,trades, consumers, on dangers of aflatoxin contamination of food
and animal feed in the maize production chain. Sensitizing of farmers, traders and public health staff on regular food
inspection in farmers stores and traders stores and in the markets as sustainable solutions for aflatoxin mitigation for the
South Eastern Kenya
Conclusions
In conclusion the study has found that the perception of farmers on the key entry points of aflatoxins contamination in
maize and animal feed in S.E. Kenya are as follows; in pre-harvest agronomic stage of maize production , the factors that
cause plant stress like , close spacing of maize (88 % of farmers agreed), Poor plant nutrition (87% of farmers agreed) ,
Late planting and late weeding (61% & 60% farmers agreed).For harvest agronomic stage the key entry points were;-
delayed harvesting of maize (95% of farmers agreed), contact of maize with soil when maize cob are thrown on the
ground (90 % of farmers agreed) .On post-harvest agronomic practice; the key entry points are poor drying of maize, (53
% of farmers agreed), poor shelling by breaking maize grains , poor storage (95 % of farmers store maize in poor
ventilated stores .and inadequate inspection of stores (58 % of farmers agreed that they do not inspect their stores). In
Traders and Agro-vet shops; the entry points are poor storage of food and feeds (88 %) and inadequate inspection (66 %)
of store
The study also found out that the level of moisture content in maize was significantly high for Mukuyuni town (13.57 % )
compared to the other towns of, Kilala (12.65 %), Machakos (12.33 %), Kathonzweni (12.22 %), Mbuvo 11.66
%),Wote11.42%) and (, Kola 11.24% the lowest. The reason being that the source of maize was from the local farmers
who had not properly dried the maize which been harvested that season for Mukuyuni .Kilala and Machakos.For the other
markets the maize samples was for previous season or from other sources like Tanzania ,Busia and simba hills. Farmers
and traders need to be sensitized and trained on proper drying and proper storage to avoid the growth of the mycotoxin
.Inspection and surveillance of maize by extension staff of the MOAL&F and public health staff needs to be done so that
they can timely advice farmers and traders on contamination of maize and other food stuffs.
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