The persistent and extended rains experienced this year as well as drying of grains by the roadside would surely pave way for contaminants like aflatoxin and fumonisins to thrive in grains thus diminishing quality.
This assertion was made by Prof. Damian Chikwendu, Team Leader, Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestle Maize Quality Improvement Partnership (M-QIP) at a one-day stakeholders’ forum held in Zaria.
He said the stakeholders meeting, the second coming after the first in April, was a partnership between USAID and Nestle Plc on Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture CNFA which aims to enhance quality, safety and transparency in Nigeria’s grain supply chain.
Prof. Chikwendu said the objective of the project was to improve agricultural practices of smallholder farmers and farmers associations, thereby enhancing relationships along supply chain, increasing their sales of maize and soya beans and improving the health of rural communities through consumption of safe products.
“Increasing the quality and quantity of maize and soya beans by decreasing the level of aflatoxins, fumonisins and aluminum in Kaduna State is the specific objective of the project which is now in 14 LGAs and 122 communities,” he said.
He added that project activities are being implemented in three zones namely Maigana, Lere and Samaru, and that there has been improvement in farmers’ awareness about contaminants and efforts to mitigate them.
Prof. Chikwendu said the practice of drying grains by the roadside aids the overall level of contaminants which is still high. Other challenges, he said, included continued use of ‘buka’ method for drying maize, and non-payment of premium prices to farmers.
He therefore called on state and local governments to devise ways of sensitizing the public about the negative implications of roadside drying of grains.