Aflatoxin Analysis in Staple Food Cereals and Assessment of Households’ Awareness on its Management in Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya
Marangu, Victor Mwiti
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Aflatoxins are naturally occurring harmful toxins produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxin contamination is a cross-boundary and multifaceted problem that requires participation and involvement of both private and public stakeholders. Agriculture is the main economic activity of Tharaka-Nithi County, yet it is among the hot spots of aflatoxin in Kenya. The county is extremely vulnerable to climate-related risks; however, there is lack of local data on aflatoxin contamination to inform interventions chiefly due to lack of local research, testing facilities, and qualified personnel. The main purpose of this study was to analyze cereals used as staple foods for aflatoxin contamination and to evaluate households’ awareness on the overall management of aflatoxin, and identify factors contributing to aflatoxin contamination. Eighty one samples were collected and laboratory analysis conducted using ELISA Kit. Aflatoxin levels in 25.8% of samples was above the Kenyan standards of 10ppb with 17.2% exceeding 20ppb. Aflatoxin levels in 44.4% of market samples exceeded 10ppb. The level of aflatoxin contamination was associated with the type of cereals and grains (p<0.05). There was no difference in mean level of aflatoxin in cereals from the study areas (p>0.05). Furthermore, there was no difference in mean level of aflatoxin in the cereals and grains collected from the markets and households (p>0.05). Majority of the farmers (84.7%) were aware of aflatoxin. However, detailed information on its management was scanty and inconsistent. Awareness creation on aflatoxin contamination to all stakeholders in the cereals value chains is needed for their concerted efforts in its control. Recognition of these barriers together with the opportunities for aflatoxin containment, the researcher hoped to improve the knowledge on aflatoxin management, health, and economic well-being of households and by extension the national food security.
International Journal of professional Practice (IJPP)