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Open AccessArticlePost Publication Peer ReviewVersion 2, Revised

Effects of the Use of Good Agricultural Practices on Aflatoxin Levels in Maize Grown in Nandi County, Kenya (Version 2, Revised)

1
Department of Public Health, Pharmacology, and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 29053-00625, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
2
National Resources Institute, P.O. Box 2 FI-00791, 00791 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 10 April 2020
Peer review status: 2nd round review Read review reports

Reviewer 1 Nicola Luigi Bragazzi University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy Reviewer 2 Thomas Schmidt IES Ltd Switzerland
Version 1
Original
Approved with revisions
Authors' response
Approved with revisions
Authors' response
Version 2
Revised
Reviewer invited Approved with revisions
Version 2, Revised
Published: 10 April 2020
DOI: 10.3390/sci2020026
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Version 1, Original
Published: 29 April 2019
DOI: 10.3390/sci1010028
Download Full-text PDF
Aflatoxin contaminated maize is of public health concern in Kenya. Training farmers on good agricultural practice (GAP) has been touted as a mitigative measure. Little is known of the effect of such training on aflatoxin levels in maize grown in Kenya. This study evaluated what effect training farmers on GAP has on aflatoxin levels in maize grown in in maize grown in Kaptumo, Kilibwoni, and Kipkaren divisions in Nandi County. Ninety farmers were recruited for the study and interviewed on GAP. Maize samples were additionally collected from the participating farmers and analyzed for aflatoxins using competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (c-ELISA). All farmers prepared the land before planting, did correct spacing between the planted crops, carried out weeding, cleaned their stores before use, checked the condition of the maize after harvesting, sorted maize after shelling, and knew aflatoxins. A majority of the farmers (90%) used fertilizers, dried maize after harvesting, knew that aflatoxins were harmful to humans, and used clean transport in transporting the harvested maize. About 98% of farmers did stooking after harvesting and 97% used wooden pallets in the maize stores. The percentage of farmers who practiced early planting, top dressing, crop rotation, raising stores above the ground, applying insecticide after shelling and feeding damaged/rotten seeds to their animals was 84–96%, 62–80%, 67–85%, 86–98%, 63–81%, and 7–21% respectively. About 18/90 (20%) of all farmers reported that they had a relative who had died from liver cancer and the mean aflatoxin levels in season 1 were significantly different from season 2 (1.92 ± 1.07 ppb; 1.30 ± 1.50 ppb). Our findings suggest that although training farmers to adopt good agricultural practices was observed to be efficient in mitigating the problem of aflatoxins, the receptiveness of farmers to different aspects of the training may have differed. Therefore, in designing an optimized regional aflatoxin contamination strategy, local applicability should be considered. View Full-Text
Keywords: good agricultural practice; aflatoxin; Nandi County; mycotoxins; Kenya; maize good agricultural practice; aflatoxin; Nandi County; mycotoxins; Kenya; maize
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Marete, G.N.; Kanja, L.W.; Mbaria, J.M.; Okumu, M.O.; Ateku, P.A.; Korhonen, H.; Joutsjoki, V. Effects of the Use of Good Agricultural Practices on Aflatoxin Levels in Maize Grown in Nandi County, Kenya. Sci 2020, 2, 26.

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1

Reviewer 1

Sent on 17 Jun 2019 by Nicola Luigi Bragazzi | Approved with revisions
University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

I appreciate the efforts of the authors. Anyway, they should provide further details. 

1) For example, how was the questionnaire developed? Please describe in detail each step of the questionnaire development.

2) Is the questionnaire validated?

3) Which are its psychometric properties?

4) The way of reporting statistcal analysis and results needs to be improved.

5) Figures and numbers should be rounded with the same level of precision. 

6) Authors could perform more statistical analysis. 

7) In which way were the participants recruited?

8) Better develop strengths and limitations of the research. 

Response to Reviewer 1

Sent on 09 Jul 2020 by Grace Marete, Laetitia Kanja, James Mbaria, Mitchel Okumu, Penina Ateku, Hannu Korhonen, Vesa Joutsjoki

1. Thank you. We have provided the questionnaire that was used in interviewing patients at the appendix section. Page 11, 12. Line 384-418. 2. The questionnaire was not validated, as it was used for gathering basic information for further research purposes. 3. The questionnaire was used to collect data based on the effect of agricultural measures on the aflatoxin levels in maize. Personal data collected was used only to elucidate the gender and age distribution of farmers, the correlation between the participating farmers and levels of aflatoxin was not examined in this study. 4. Thank you for this observation. We have summarized most of the data presented in figures into a single table. Table 2. Line 188 5.Thank you. We have rectified this in all sections of the manuscript. Tables 1-4. Line 179, line 188, line 193, line 199. 6. We have made a recap table that now summarizes all the data presented sporadically in sections 3.2-3.6. The table shows the specific agricultural measures (early planting, land preparation, correct spacing, etc.) taken, the number of farmers giving a reply, confidence interval of replies and - based on that – percentage of farmers who took the said measures. Table 2. Line 188 7. We have already described this in section 2.2. Study Design. 8. Thank you for the observation. We have added a statement in the conclusion section that addresses the strength and limitations of the research. i.e. ‘even though training farmers to adopt good agricultural practices was observed to be efficient in combatting aflatoxin problem in maize in Nandi County, it can be anticipated that the most efficient measures to mitigate the aflatoxin problem vary in various agro-ecological zones. Therefore, local applicability should be considered when evaluating the specific measures for designing an optimized regional aflatoxin contamination management strategy.’ Line 357-368.

Reviewer 2

Sent on 03 Jul 2019 by Thomas Schmidt | Approved with revisions
IES Ltd Switzerland

Dear authors,

your paper is fine and I like your relation between farmers' behaviour and aflatoxin levels. I would recommend to make a little bit more statistics, especially to find out which of the parameters explain the variability in aflatoxin levels at the best. Small comments are in the attched file.

Best regards,

Thomas

Response to Reviewer 2

Sent on 09 Jul 2020 by Grace Marete, Laetitia Kanja, James Mbaria, Mitchel Okumu, Penina Ateku, Hannu Korhonen, Vesa Joutsjoki

1. Thank you very much for your kind words. We have made a recap table that now summarizes all the data presented sporadically in sections 3.2-3.6. The table shows the specific agricultural measures (early planting, land preparation, correct spacing, etc.) taken, the number of farmers giving a reply, confidence interval of replies and - based on that – percentage of farmers who took the said measures. Table 2. Line 188. 2. Thank you for the observation. The dimension was ppb. Page 1: line 35 3. Thank you. We have made the change. Page 2; line 43 4. Thank you for the observation. We have made the change. Page 2 line 45 5. Thank you for the suggestion. We have made the change. Page 2 line 56 i.e. fumonisins (a group of mycotoxins derived from Fusarium). 6. Thank you for this keen observation. The critical limit is 20 ppb. We have made the change. Page 2. Line 71. 7. Thank you for this very critical observation. We have re-calculated all the confidence intervals and have rectified all the discrepancies and summarized the confidence intervals calculated into a table (Table 2. Line 188) 8. Thank you for this observation. We have clarified that the levels were expressed in parts per billion. Conventionally, 1ppb is equivalent to 1mg/kg 9. Thank you. We have made the change to reflect your recommendation. Page 7. Line 199 10. This is a very good suggestion. However, it was beyond the scope of our study. We were not able to individualize the aflatoxin levels we have reported so that a distinction could be made between farmers who responded ‘yes/no’ to certain practices and the corresponding aflatoxin levels. We identify the limitation and have tried to explain it in the discussion section. Page 10. Line 347-349 11. Thank you for this observation. We did not report on the correlations as all of them were non-significant.

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