Panel discussion at the 'Growing with dairy' meeting held at ILRI Nairobi, 9 March 2018

Erastus Kang’ethe (standing) facilitates a panel discussion at the ‘Growing with Dairy’ meeting. The panel members (left to right) are Johanna Lindahl from ILRI, Humphrey Mbugua from the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers and Margaret Aleke from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (photo credit: ILRI/Emmanuel Muunda).

Representatives from the dairy sector in Kenya met at the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in March 2018 for a one-day meeting organized to present the research findings and plans of two dairy projects that ILRI is undertaking in collaboration with other partners: Measuring and mitigating the risk of mycotoxins in maize and dairy products for poor consumers in Kenya (MyDairy) and MoreMilk: making the most of milk (MoreMilk).

The meeting, dubbed Growing with Dairy, brought together 33 participants representing different stakeholder groups in Kenya’s dairy sector including industry, government, consumers, academia and development organizations.

Presentations by the principal investigators of the MyDairy and MoreMilk projects discussed various activities and interventions aimed at improving the dairy sector in Kenya and boosting the health and economic benefits that Kenyans derive from the sector.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to disseminate research findings, receive feedback on ongoing and planned activities, and align project objectives with the needs of public and private actors in the dairy sector in Kenya.

The MyDairy project was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland and implemented between 2012 and 2018 in two phases: an initial four-year phase followed by a second phase of 1.5 years. The project aimed at mitigating the risks of aflatoxins in the dairy value chain in Kenya.

The MoreMilk project is a five-year initiative (2016–2021) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom government that works to upgrade milk hygiene and quality standards in the informal dairy value chain and maximize economic, health and nutrition benefits, especially for the poorest communities in Nairobi.

Download the Growing with Dairy meeting report

Aflatoxin-contaminated groundnut kernels

Aflatoxin-contaminated groundnut kernels from Mozambique (photo credit: IITA).

A special issue of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND) published in July 2016 and sponsored by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) features 12 peer-reviewed scientific articles on aflatoxins in eastern Africa.

The three broad objectives of the special issue are to understand the health consequences of aflatoxins, characterize the extent of the problem and identify key elements to underpin the way forward to mitigation.

The papers, listed below, are all open access and the PDFs are freely available for download at the AJFAND website.

Aflatoxins in East Africa: The importance of getting the full picture (

Understanding the health impacts

Extent and location of the problem

  • Aflatoxin B1 occurrence in millet, sorghum and maize from four agro-ecological zones in Kenya (
  • Prevalence of aflatoxin in feeds and cow milk from five counties in Kenya (
  • Survey of informal milk retailers in Nairobi, Kenya and prevalence of aflatoxin M1 in marketed milk (
  • Assessment of pre-harvest aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination of maize in Babati District, Tanzania
  • Aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination of marketed maize and maize bran and maize used as animal feed in northern Tanzania
  • Mapping aflatoxin risk from milk consumption using biophysical and socio-economic data: A case study of Kenya (
  • Examining environmental drivers of spatial variability in aflatoxin accumulation in Kenyan maize: Potential utility in risk prediction models

Finding the way forward to mitigation

  • Farmer perception of moulds and mycotoxins within the Kenya dairy value chain: A gendered analysis (
  • A review of agricultural aflatoxin management strategies and emerging innovations in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Potential of lactic acid fermentation in reducing aflatoxin B1 in Tanzania maize-based gruel
ILRI graduate fellow Taishi Kayano collects milk samples from a Kenyan dairy farm

ILRI graduate fellow Taishi Kayano collects milk samples from a Kenyan dairy farm as part of a qualitative survey on aflatoxins in the dairy chain in Kenya. (photo credit: ILRI/Taishi Kayano).

In January 2013, an international, multidisciplinary team of five upcoming researchers undertook a scoping survey of aflatoxins in the feed-dairy chain in Kenya as part of activities of the project, “Measuring and mitigating the risk of mycotoxins in maize and dairy products for poor consumers in Kenya” (MyDairy project).

The team comprised Kenyan PhD students Anima Sirma and Daniel Senerwa, American intern Calvin Pohl, Japanese veterinary student Taishi Kayano and Kenyan postdoctoral scientist Teresa Kiama.

They visited nine districts and 27 villages in rural Kenya where they led participatory rapid appraisals on dairying and aflatoxins and held focus group discussions with women dairy farmers.

In addition, all the communities visited were given information and training on safe handling and storage of milk and animal feed.

The qualitative part of the survey collected data on the type of feeds, milk yield and the storage period for milk and feed, among other variables.

Samples of milk and feed were also collected for laboratory analysis to investigate the association between the condition of cattle and the prevalence of aflatoxin in milk.

The results of the qualitative survey are being analyzed but preliminary findings show that the surveyed farmers use a variety of feeding practices for their dairy cattle and most of the milk is marketed in the informal sector as raw, unprocessed milk.

Recalling his field research experience as an ILRI graduate fellow, Kayano had this to say:

“I visited farmers with livestock officers or chiefs in the districts. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to get meet the local farmers and collect the milk and feed samples.

“They also helped to identify the precise locations of the dairy farms; this was very useful as there are no detailed maps of dairy farms.

“The livestock officers also translated our questionnaires from English to Kiswahili which was a key step in acquiring the data needed for the study.

“An internship at ILRI is a really good opportunity for students who would like to work on a short-term basis in an international research institution and to experience doing research in a developing country context.”

Read more about the MyDairy project