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Improved Drying and Storage Practices that Reduce Aflatoxins in Stored Maize: Experimental Evidence from Smallholders in Senegal

Jonathan Bauchet, Stacy Prieto and Jacob Ricker‐Gilbert

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2021, vol. 103, issue 1, 296-316

Abstract: Proper post‐harvest treatment of crops is key to limiting contamination by aflatoxins, potent carcinogens, but little is known about constraints to adoption of best post‐harvest practices among smallholder farmers in developing countries. We use a randomized controlled trial with 2,000 maize producers in Senegal to test whether low awareness and/or lack of drying and storage technologies are barriers to storing safe maize. A novel feature of our intervention is that we offered both drying and storage technologies to farmers and evaluated their combined impact. We found that only hermetic (airtight) storage bags caused a statistically significant reduction in total aflatoxin levels after 3–4 months of storage, reducing the likelihood that maize had total aflatoxin levels above safe‐to‐eat thresholds by 30%. Our results provide practical guidance to lower aflatoxins in staple crops and suggest that strategies to reduce aflatoxins should address issues from harvest to storage in a comprehensive manner.

Date: 2021
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https://doi.org/10.1111/ajae.12106

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