Nigeria Aflasafe™ Challenge Project

In Progress


The Nigeria Aflasafe™ Challenge Project is a 5-year, US $12.68 million Pay-for-Results prize competition that incentivizes private sector actors to work with smallholder farmers to adopt Aflasafe™. AgResults offers a per unit payment premium to aggregators and grain traders for each metric ton of high Aflasafe™ maize (i.e., maize grains containing high proportion of beneficial fungi). By motivating smallholder farmers to use Aflasafe™ and providing technical assistance, aggregators help smallholder farmers to produce high-Aflasafe™ maize that is aflatoxin free.

Encouraging farmers to apply Aflasafe to their maize has economic and health benefits.
AgResults Nigeria Project Timeline

The learning journey

The problem

Why AflasafeTM?

Aflatoxin contamination affects 4.5 billion people across the developing world. Among the most carcinogenic substances known, aflatoxins are produced by a group of molds known as the Aspergillus fungi that are commonly found in grains such as maize. In Nigeria, where smallholder farmers produce over 70% of the nation’s maize crop, it is estimated that a high percentage of the nation’s maize is contaminated by aflatoxin.

Technologies to combat aflatoxin contamination have been sought for decades. In Nigeria, an environmentally safe technology to reduce aflatoxin contamination of crops has been developed using beneficial fungi that displace toxigenic fungi. This technology is called Aflasafe™. However, various barriers to market, including consumer awareness, affordability, and a lack of contamination limits, amongst other reasons, have prevented its widespread adoption.

Contest design

Who is the target?

Private sector aggregators and grain traders who provide AflasafeTM to smallholder farmers in order to obtain better market prices and quality.

What is the prize?

Competitors receive US $18,75 per MT of AflasafeTM-treated maize sold. The maize must have at least a 70% AflasafeTM level.


Laboratory testing verifies the prevalence of Aflasafe in maize in order to provide payments.

Expected impact

As designed, the project is expected to sustainably engage the private sector (maize aggregators) in the supply of aflatoxin-free maize, and raise awareness of aflatoxins as a problem and Aflasafe™ as an effective control. The increased awareness in turn is expected to result in increased demand for aflatoxin-free maize by smallholders and value chain actors resulting in improved health outcomes from consuming safer maize. Smallholders are also expected to benefit from increased yields and increased market demand and/or any direct financial incentives that maize aggregators provide them.

We expect to achieve the following by the end of the project:

Actual results


# of Competitors


SHF Reached


Prizes Awarded (USD)


Amount of Aflasafe-treated Grain

Learning & Evaluation

What We’ve Learned through Implementation

This table illustrates how our learning has evolved in Nigeria from project design through implementation. Further details can be found in the Learning Library.

Recent News and Learning

Below are recent learning products related to Nigeria.
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Published: June 24, 2019

Fueling the Nigerian Maize Sector with a Pay-for-Results “Nudge”

June 24, 2019 This blog post was originally pub...

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Published: January 18, 2019

The Benefit of Hindsight: How Market Systems Theory Could Have Predicted Aflasafe Uptake in Nigeria

January 18, 2019 This blog post was originally pu...

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Published: December 13, 2018

Nigeria Grain Aggregator Uses AgResults Prize to Invest in New Cleaning Facility

December 13, 2018 With a recent move, a maize agg...

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Published: March 01, 2018

Prizes in Nigeria Pilot Exceed Projections

March 1, 2018 As of February, AgResults made its ...

Evaluation Design

In Nigeria, the Evaluator originally designed a randomized control trial but because of lack of adherence to the randomization, used a quasi-experimental impact evaluation design. We compared smallholders in villages that AgResults reached, or the treatment group, to a comparison group of smallholders in villages that AgResults did not reach, focusing on the zone of influence of six implementers in northern Nigerian states of Kano and Kaduna with additional non-treatment farmers being drawn from a set-aside area in Katsina state. To assess impact of the project on market for aflatoxin-free maize, the Evaluator is applying a structure-conduct-performance analytical framework (further described in the Evaluation Framework).

Evaluation Stage

The Evaluator carried out the baseline before the 2015 planting season and completed the endline survey before the 2017 planting season one year before the planned project end to allow program expansion into areas that had been set aside as comparison areas. In 2017, the project was extended by one year, with reduced incentives. A final qualitative inquiry is planned at the end of project in 2019. Evaluation findings are forthcoming.

Project team