Effect of triple-layer hermetic bagging on mould infection and aflatoxin contamination of maize during multi-month on-farm storage in Kenya
Field trials were conducted in small-scale farmers' grain stores in an aflatoxin endemic region to assess the effect of storing maize in triple layer hermetic (PICS™) bags on aflatoxin contamination. Shelled maize grain was purchased from farmers, and filled into PICS bags, woven polypropylene (PP) and jute bags and kept in the farmers' own stores for 35 weeks. Grain moisture content, total mould count and mould incidence levels were examined at onset and after every 7 weeks during the 35 weeks of storage. Aflatoxin contamination was examined at onset, and after 14, 28 and 35 weeks. Ambient temperature and r.h. in the trial site and in all the bags, as well as oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the PICS bags were also monitored. Initial moisture content (m.c.) of maize varied from farmer to farmer and ranged between 12.4 and 15.0%. The m.c. of maize stored in PICS bags remained significantly higher (P < 0.05) than in PP and jute bags in the last 14 weeks of storage. Total mould count and aflatoxin contamination of maize stored at an initial m.c. < 13% and 13% m.c. 14% increased significantly in PP and jute bags but not in PICS bags. After 35 weeks, total aflatoxin of maize stored in the PICS bags at an initial m.c. < 13% and 13% m.c. 14% did not change where as it increased 5e8 folds in the PP and jute bags. Total mould count and aflatoxin contamination of maize stored at an initial m.c. > 14% increased profusely in the three types of bags. Our findings demonstrate that storing maize in PICS bags can prevent accumulation of aflatoxin in rural farmers' stores if grain moisture is <14%.