While Aflasafe is a product exclusively for and of Africa, our team’s expertise and achievements are spilling beyond Africa’s shores, receiving recognition across the world. In October 2018 our very own Alejandro Ortega-Beltran took the first step in a brand-new relationship, travelling all the way to Islamabad, Pakistan to attend the launch of AflaPak, a similar locally tailored aflatoxin-control product that is getting a helping hand from IITA.
AflaPak is being developed by the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and private company Rafhan Maize Products, with support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who are also generous co-funders of Aflasafe. The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) is facilitating and managing the implementation of the activities in Pakistan.
IITA scientists, led by Dr Ortega-Beltran and Dr Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, will be providing technical support and backstopping. This will include training Pakistani staff; providing technical and scientific advice during the product research and development process; sharing ideas on how to successfully register the product in Pakistan, and communicating to government officials how the natural biocontrol approach works and how powerful it has been in the case of Aflasafe.
The week-long trip was a great success. Dr Ortega-Beltran provided technical knowledge and support at the AflaPak launch, giving a presentation on the science behind the approach and its proven effectiveness. He enthralled the audience with the urgency of the menace and credibility of the solution: 30 minutes after his talk ended, he was still responding to a flood of questions. Our ‘Aflasafe Ambassador’ was warmly received during the visit by NARC, the United States Embassy in Pakistan, USDA and USAID, with whom he discussed and helped shape future plans. He also evaluated laboratories and production facilities so that he could prepare some preliminary advice.
We are delighted by this cross-continental recognition of our expertise and of Aflasafe as a cutting-edge product. “It is a matter of pride for us that partners see IITA as a leader in aflatoxin biocontrol research and are seeking our assistance outside our normal sphere of operations in Africa,” said Dr Bandyopadhyay.