Drying maize to a moisture content level appropriate for safe storage is a challenge for small-scale farmers in Kenya, exacerbating the risk of aflatoxin contamination in home-produced maize. IFPRI has enrolled 665 maize farming households across 30 villages in Meru and Tharaka-Nithi counties in a study to evaluate the demand for, and impact of, post-harvest technologies to reduce aflatoxin contamination.
In 2014, we identified and tested a number of promising technologies. In July 2014, we piloted a mobile grain drier in eastern Uganda capable of drying 1 metric ton of maize. Since the first pilot, the drier has undergone several modifications and improvements related to the uniformity of drying and a second pilot is planned for December 2014. We also tested a solar wind tunnel drier, and designed and tested a wooden tarp frame to improve current sun-drying practices by making it easier for farmers to keep their grain off the ground and safe from rain. Finally, our partners at ACDI-VOCA and Catapult Design designed a flatbed drier which dries maize using heat generated by burning biomass. Capable of drying 500 kg of maize in 5 hours, we believe this to be an ideal drying solution for farmers in our study areas.
Prior to the February harvest in 2015, we will assess farmers’ willingness to pay for use of the selected drying technology. A random subsample will also be offered a price premium for one bag of maize if it tests below the regulated aflatoxin level. Through this study, we will assess the effect of a food safety premium on post-harvest practices as well as on the quality and quantity of maize farmers choose to sell versus retain for household consumption.
Written by Lulu Tian and Vivian Hoffmann, IFPRI