"Maize is a nightmare!"

Quote and photo from the field. By ESR Konstantin Biehl

Moulds on maize that are visible on the fields in Meru

All ESR's are on fieldwork in Africa in 2019. As part of the dissemination they will be sending a photo and a quote from the field while they are away.   


This photo and quote from the field comes from ESR Konstantin Biehl who is doing his fieldwork in Kenya on the production of maize. Read more about his research here.

"Maize is a nightmare!" Quote by Brother Eric Gikunda (Brothers of Christian Instruction)

For people in Meru County, Kenya maize is a staple food for humans (in form of ugali, porridge, grilled or mixed with potatoes and beans) and animals like chicken and dairy cows. In times of irregular rains and the spread of a devastating pest, the fall army worm, farmers are worried and frustrated. Some, like Brother Eric Gikunda, switch to other food crops and abandon maize farming entirely. However, this makes them more depending on the national maize market which suffers from fluctuating prices and temporary scarcity during dry season, and a lack of testing for food safety.

My research investigates practices of food safety concerning aflatoxins, a group of carcinogenic toxins produced by the metabolisms of different mould species growing on maize (and other food crops). These moulds are visible on the fields in Meru, but during its way through the supply chains of maize and milk the toxins are rendered invisible by procedures of production and fraudulent business practices.