Kenyans love maize. But aflatoxins are making it dangerous
A small organization in Nairobi’s Mathare slum that spreads positive social messages through music is taking on an unlikely foe: maize, the country’s primary staple food. It is doing this in an effort to cut down the consumption of aflatoxins — a type of toxin produced by fungus that clings onto crops, especially maize, when the crops are not dried and stored properly, and which causes liver cancer and can be deadly at high levels of exposure.
Billian Music Foundation is producing a song, which it hopes to roll out nationally, which aims to influence Kenyans to decrease the quantity of maize they eat, driving them to alternatives, such as millet.
Its efforts are in partnership with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, which has worked to map out food consumption patterns in Mathare — talking with food vendors and community members to identify what people are eating, what drives people’s food preferences, and what sort of access there is to alternatives. ICRISAT is also doing similar work in urban areas in Zimbabwe and Malawi.