Development and implementation of sustainable strategies to improve food-safety and retain nutritional values by reducing fungal infestation and aflatoxin contamination in the food-chain in Kenya as model region for Sub-Saharan Africa. Subproject 2 (AflaZ)
Project code: JKI-PB-08-1267, 2816PROC12
Contract period: 01.11.2018 - 31.12.2021
Budget: 182,370 Euro
Purpose of research: Basic research
Maize and milk are highly onsumed by the African population. Unfortunately, both maie plants on the field and in staples, livestock feed and milk, are frequently and heavily contaminated by fungal aflatoxins, and people are continuously exposed to levels far above the recommended thresholds. AflaZ aims to contribute to the improved food production on the field and quality standards of milk, maize and its products in Kenya, as a high risk model region for Sub-Saharan Africa, Through the development of fast, effective and sustainable methods to monitor, to analyze and to reduce fungal infestation and aflatoxin contamination on maize fields and in storage. A strong knowledge exchange and an effective communication between scientists, stakeholders and population is the prerequisite for behavioral changes on farms and in households. Thus, AflaZ will implement extensive capacity building activities in cooperation with local institutions involving farmers, students and further stakeholders, to ensure a sustainable knowledge transfer, the cultural acceptance of the recommendations.This enables the effective integration of the the methods which will be developed.WP 6 deals with field associated insects: Insects associated with maize fields in Kenya have impact on the distribution of fungal spores passively (bristles, legs/tarsae) or actively (mouthparts, ovipositor, and regurgitation) to maize plants. Thus, the general research question will be: Which insects are associated with the vegetation and/or soils in maize fields with different management systems, in which extent they are able to transfer fungal spores to the maize plant (different developmental stages, different plant organs) and in which way they are able to induce/suppress the toxin production of relevant fungal strains. Within the consortium field insects and soil parameters will be determined as vitality parameters for maize plants. Methods will be developed for fast and easy-applicable detection and monitoring of fungal infestation and aflatoxin content in maize and carry-over in milk. The most effective method will be identified and implemented on pilot-fields and in storage.To train smallholder farmers, competences and structures for knowledge exchange between German and African scientists will built up and farmers will be trained on an pilot field throughout the project duration. Kenyan PhDs students will be included into the project and will be able to share their experiences with institutions in their countries. These activities will serve as a basis for a sustainable and scientifically based aflatoxin reduction in hotspot regions. Twice, a 3-day-seminar will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, where results are shared between scientists, local authorities and farmers,organized together with African partners. In WP6 the research will be divided in two ways I) an experimental field with certain standardized treatments (e.g. a] Maize growing according to the common local practice, but no pesticides; b] an anti-fungal treatment with herb extracts (developed by JKI-TM), c] the ICIPE push-pull strategy with Desmodium as deterrence and Napier grass as attractant) and II) a standardized procedure for the assessment of insects (invertebrates) in maize fields with different growing conditions in different regions of Kenya.. In a third step the quantity and quality of fungal spores which are carried by certain insect species (and their life stages) by different parts of the body ) a) by fluorescent microscope and b) by quantitative PCR and optional by more advanced techniques like Digital Droplet-PCR, will be assessed. This enables to identify those taxa which play the main role within the aflatoxin-complex, particularly regarding the transfer of spores.