All AATF Publications

Despite Kenya posting one of the highest levels of food and nutritional insecurity, the Government of Kenya banned importation and consumption of foods derived from genetic engineering (GM foods) in October 2012, on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to show that GM foods were safe. The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) commissioned the Kenya University Biotechnology Consortium (KUBICO) to conduct a study to determine the impact of the four-year-old ban on food security, research and training, and to identify opportunities for investment in biotechnology and agribusiness in Kenya. The study sought to determine whether the ban had any role in the escalating food prices and reduced enthusiasm among students training in biotechnology, and development partners funding such projects. The study, combining desk review with interviews and a survey, focused on 13 large scale millers that command 90% of Kenya’s milling volume, 10 small scale millers, five major manufacturers likely to use GM grain, two regulators, and six public biotechnology training and research institutions. Analyses of desk review, secondary data, and questionnaires/interviews indicated that the ban on GM foods imposed in 2012 has heightened food prices, affected food distribution mechanisms and threatened the country’s current and future food security. Results showed that the ban, initially intended for importation and consumption, has now terminated progress in agriculture and food security research, causing many biotech research and development projects to stall.


Genetically modified (GM) crops were first approved for cultivation and human consumption in 1996. Over the next 10 years, large and smallholder farmers in developing and developed countries increased the acreage of these crops – mainly maize, soybean, cotton, canola, tomato and potato – from 1.7 to 102 million hectares. This rapid and unprecedented rate of adoption of any new agricultural technology was attributed to the substantial multiple benefits realised by farmers in these countries. However, over the 10 years, South Africa is the only country in Africa that grew biotech crops. By 2006, South Africa grew genetically modified maize, cotton and soybean on 1.4 million hectares.

Realising that adoption of modern biotechnology is being hampered by lack of accurate and reliable information, knowledge and awareness at all levels of society, AATF mooted an idea to create a platform for information and knowledge sharing. The aim of the initiative was to allow policy makers and key stakeholders to make informed decisions on use of modern biotechnology.

And in September 2006, AATF founded the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Nairobi, Kenya. The objective was to ensure that the vast and critical wealth of information and knowledge on agricultural biotechnology possessed by scientists is made available to policy and decision makers and the general public. OFAB brings together stakeholders in agricultural biotechnology – scientists, policy makers, regulators, farmers, consumers, journalists, the civil society, industrialists, legislatures, religious groups, academia and the general public – to share knowledge and experiences, and explore ways of bringing the benefits of agricultural biotechnology to smallholder farmers and consumers.

A decade later, there is a general appreciation among the policy makers and the general public of the benefits of agricultural biotechnology – courtesy of OFAB’s awareness creation, sensitisation, education, and information and knowledge sharing initiatives. More governments now appreciate that modern agricultural biotechnology has a major role in helping their countries attain the elusive food insecurity. Indeed, the regulatory environment has changed in the seven countries with OFAB Chapters either through the enactment of new supportive regulatory frameworks or amendment of the previously restrictive regulatory frameworks. They are all at various stages of research, development and commercialisation of GM crops.


The purpose of this document is to guide the Seeds2B partnership in the development and implementation of strategies to prevent undue delays to market access during the release and registration of new high-performing crop varieties in Malawi and Zimbabwe. It specifically provides information towards ensuring regulatory compliance of legal, scientific and professional applications. It will inform initiatives by AATF’s regulatory affairs unit in support of the Seeds2B Project.


  • Release and Registration of New Crop Varieties in Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe’s Varietal Release Process
  • Release and Registration of New Crop Varieties in Malawi
  • Proposed revisions to Malawi’s National Variety Release System
  • Experience of Seeds2B in compliance with regulatory requirements and procedures in Malawi and Zimbabwe


PDF: Towards Adoption: Farmers Assess Livelihood-Transforming Technologies – Annual Report 2016

  • Who we are
  • Message from the Board Chair
  • Message from the Executive Director
  • Priority Areas
  • Priority Area 1: Mitigating Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture
    Developing drought tolerant and insect resistant maize
  • Priority Area 2: Pest Management
    Controlling Striga weed in maize farms
    Managing the Maruca pod borer in cowpea
    Improving banana, Ensete and cassava against bacterial diseases
    Managing the maize lethal necrosis disease

  • Priority Area 3: Mechanisation
    Promoting agricultural mechanisation for efficiency and better productivity
  • Priority Area 4: Soil Management
    Improving rice productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Priority Area 5: Enabling Environment
    Product profiling and ex ante socioeconomic impact assessment
    Intellectual property management and licensing
    Regulatory and policy engagement
    Product stewardship
    Communication, issue management and public acceptance
    Positively influencing policy change for an agriculture friendly environment
    Building ‘seed bridges’ to improve small-holder access to quality seed
  • Priority Area 6: Improving Breeding Methods
    Developing hybrid rice with yield advantage
  • Priority Area 7: Improving Food Safety and Quality
  • Financial report 2016
  • Board of Trustees 2016
  • AATF Staff 2016
  • Message from the Board Chair and Executive Director
  • Mixed fortunes for Striga Control in Maize Project as MLN and drought rear their ugly heads
  • Efficacy trials confirm resistance of transgenic cowpea to pod-borer pests
  • Great achievements in development and commercialisation of WEMA products
  • Trials of hope: Milestones achieved in NEWEST Rice Project as Nigeria commissions trial facility
  • Demand for mechanisation shoots up as cassava farmers bag bumper harvests
  • Promising yields from hybrid rice trials
  • 2015 a defining year for Seeds2B variety evaluation trials in Malawi and Zimbabwe
  • OFAB welcomes new phase, redefines biotech advocacy
  • Developing transgenic bananas resistant to BXW disease
  • Overcoming regulatory challenges in commercialisation and adoption of biofertlilisers and biopesticides in Africa
  • Sampling and testing protocol: Ensuring accuracy in determining aflatoxin contamination in maize and peanuts
  • Financial Report 2015
  • Board of Trustees 2015
  • AATF Staff 2015
  • Message from the Board Chair and Executive Director
  • New partnerships, first hybrid and new varieties re-energise the Project and boost commercialisation of StrigAway maize seed
  • Gearing to deliver pod-borer resistant cowpea to farmers
  • DroughtTEGO gains higher demand – even as MLN devastates the maize market
  • NEWEST Rice Project ushers in Phase II as Nigeria joins the Project
  • Higher yields and better prices for cassava farmers under CAMAP
  • First hybrid rice developed
  • OFAB opts for high-impact grassroots outreach
  • The Seeds2B Project rolls off its workplan with technology needs assessment and scouting
  • Expanding the horizon of possibilities – producing and testing transgenic lines with stacked genes
  • Commercial Products II (COMPRO II) Project
  • USDA-FAS initiative for bio-pesticide registration guidance for Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Control of aflatoxin contamination in maize and peanuts in Sub-Saharan Africa

Legal Counsel for the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alhaji Tejan-Cole, explains what his organization is doing to help farmers in Africa increase productivity, profitability and sustainability to reverse the continent’s food deficit.

Experts have long agonized over how to produce higher crop yields and more nutritious foods from poor soils, to make food affordable for and accessible to Africa’s expanding population./p>

As African farming is largely smallholder-based and most farmers still use inefficient practices that take a lot from the soil but give little in return, the prognosis is gloomy. With the current faith in market-based solutions, many of them can only slip into deeper poverty and deprivation.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations says that every 10 percent increase in smallholder agricultural productivity in Africa can lift almost 7 million people above the dollar-a-day poverty line.

Proprietary technologies to improve the drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance, yield potential and nutrient content of food crops are already being exploited in developed countries, with research companies coming up with better technologies every day.

While most smallholders in Africa seem resigned to the hit-or-miss character of their livelihood, they are keen to adopt new proprietary technology options where the right incentives and market opportunities exist.

With this in mind, the AATF was established to help small-scale farmers access and use these proprietary technologies to attain food security and reduce poverty.

The Art of the Deal

What do the following have in common?   DOWNLOAD PUBLICATION I PDF

  • A staple consumed by millions of people − strangled by a weed that could not be vanquished.
  • A bean prized by millions for its high protein content − that all too often gets devoured by a caterpillar before harvest.
  • The fastest growing staple in Africa − but which most African countries import, since the local varieties are low-yielding and difficult to produce.
  • A popular food crop that increasingly fails as climate change brings hotter, drier weather to many areas.

All these are major African crops with major problems that require urgent attention in order to meet food security and economic development needs and that AATF is involved in addressing through focused partnerships with technology owners, researchers, agribusiness, and governments. You learn about the crops referred to in the pages in this book.

AATF itself owns no research fields, laboratories or patents. Instead, AATF staff work with more than 80 research, technology, policy, government, and NGO partners to connect ideas and agreements, people and technologies to ensure that what comes out of laboratories can be developed into excellent tools for smallholder farmers in Africa. AATF and partners also ensure that these technologies get approved by policymakers and regulators, get produced by local agribusinesses and are made available to smallholder farmers. This in turn enables farmers to produce high-yielding, high quality staples and other crops and enjoy higher income and food security.

The solutions may be a disease-resistant banana, drought-tolerant maize seed, insect pest-resistant cowpea, special machines for planting and harvesting cassava, a deal with commercial seed companies or a study tour for policy makers to better understand biotechnology. In each case, AATF is contributing to solving tough problems to help African farmers improve yield, income, and lives.

We focus on more than the value chain. We work on a value “web” linking not only farmers, input dealers and markets – but also research institutes, private companies, technology developers, royalty-holders, machinery assemblers, policy makers, and the media.

We are the “honest brokers”: persuading, negotiating, advocating, getting permissions, licensing, sub-licensing, arranging for royalties or royalty-free arrangements.

The following pages introduce ten projects in ten countries, and includes reminiscences on the organisation’s founding and thoughts on where it’s going.

We hope you enjoy the tour.


This report presents results of a baseline study on the constraints and opportunities of maize production in the Western Region of Kenya. The aim of the study was to provide baseline information that would set the basis for measuring progress and impact of the project on the livelihoods of the target population. Its objective was to determine the current status of livelihoods within the project areas by looking at various indicators of livelihoods such as household demographics; access to land, input use, and crop production; decision-making process in farming; Striga and Striga control technologies; vulnerability; capital assets; and livelihood strategies and outcomes, and explore opportunities and constraints affecting maize production in the project areas. One thousand two hundred (1200) households randomly selected from 12 districts were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Data from the study was analyzed using descriptive statistics and multiple regression.

The study found out that high proportions of households are male-headed households with the proportion of female-headed households in Nyanza being higher than in the Western region. The average age of household head was 49 years with average formal schooling of eight years and household size of six. About 60% of household heads work full-time on the farm. Household land holdings are small and mostly used for the production of annual crops especially maize. Household members over 60 years of age are the ones working mostly full time on the farm. More women than men belong to and participate in the leadership of social groups. In addition most household members belong to women groups, development committees, and credit and savings groups.

The main source of funding for farming aspects among the households is proceeds from sale of farm produce which include maize. All key farming related decisions in the households are made by both the household head and the spouse except the decision on the acreage of land to plant. Input use levels are low and vary inter-province.

Striga is ranked as the number one production constraint in maize production and is severe among 50% of households sampled. In terms of severity, Striga currently claims over 40% of the households’ maize crop. Over 80% of the households use the uprooting method to control Striga in their farms. About 50% of the households use organic and inorganic fertilizers. The use of control technologies like Imazapyr-resistant (IR) maize is less than 5% among farmers. The main reasons for non-adoption of Striga control measures among the households is inadequate information on the technologies and their high costs. The model on determinants of maize production showed that the level of usage of organic fertilizer influences maize production level.

George Marechera*
African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Nairobi, Kenya. E-mail:

Joseph Ndwiga
African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Nairobi, Kenya. E-mail:
* Corresponding author

Aflatoxin contamination in maize and maize products is a major problem in Kenya, especially in the lower eastern part, where crop losses and human fatalities have been reported. Using a pre-tested questionnaire, 480 households were surveyed in the area, which has been identified as a “hotspot” for the lethal Aspergillus flavus strain S. This study aimed to estimate the potential adoption of Aflasafe, a new aflatoxin control technology that is currently being field-tested in Kenya, Burkina Faso and Senegal. The study found an adoption potential of 82%, which suggests that Aflasafe is likely to command a large market in lower eastern Kenya. The main factors that significantly influenced (positively or negatively) farmers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for Aflasafe were: formal education, farmer type, household income, and county of residence in Kenya. The uptake of Aflasafe could be enhanced through extension services and short-term subsidies.


Copyright © 2017 | All Rights Reserved, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF-Africa)