Nigeria Aflasafe™ Challenge Project



The Nigeria Aflasafe™ Challenge Project was a five-year, US $12.68 million Pay-for-Results prize competition that incentivized private sector actors to work with smallholder farmers to adopt Aflasafe™. AgResults offered 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 the use of Aflasafe™ and providing technical assistance, aggregators helped smallholder farmers to produce aflatoxin-reduced maize. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) served as the Project Manager.

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

The learning journey

The problem

Aflatoxins are one of the world’s most carcinogenic substances. They are produced by a group of molds known as the Aspergillus fungi that often contaminate grains, such as maize. Aflatoxin-contaminated food can increase the risk of cancer and is associated with childhood stunting. In Nigeria, where smallholder farmers produce over 70% of the nation’s maize crop, aflatoxins compromise livelihoods and endanger lives.

Technologies to combat aflatoxin contamination have been sought for decades. In Nigeria, an environmentally safe technology called AflasafeTM has been developed to reduce aflatoxin contamination of crops. AflasafeTM uses beneficial fungi that displace toxigenic fungi However, various barriers, including low consumer awareness and a lack of contamination limits, have prevented its widespread adoption.

Contest design

Who was the target?

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

What was the prize?

Competitors received US $18.75 per MT of AflasafeTM-treated maize sold. When tested, the maize needed to have at least a 70% AflasafeTM level.


Laboratory testing verified the prevalence of AflasafeTM in maize to provide payments.

Expected impact

The project was expected to engage private maize aggregators and encourage them to supply aflatoxin-reduced maize while raising awareness of aflatoxins as a problem and Aflasafe™ as an effective control. Increased awareness would drive up demand for aflatoxin-free maize among smallholder farmers and value chain actors, improving health as people consume safer maize. Smallholder farmers were also expected to benefit from increased yields and increased market demand and/or any direct financial incentives that maize aggregators provided them.

AgResults expected to achieve the following by the end of the project:

Actual results


# of Competitors


SHF Reached


Prizes Awarded (USD)


Amount of Aflasafe-treated Grain Produced

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

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Evaluation Design

In Nigeria, the Evaluator originally designed a randomized control trial, but because of lack of adherence to the randomization, a quasi-experimental impact evaluation design was used instead. This approach involved comparing smallholder farmers in project-targeted villages (treatment group) with smallholder farmers in villages not reached by the project (non-treatment group). These groups were primarily located the zone of influence of six implementers in the states of Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina. To assess impact of the project on market for aflatoxin-free maize, the Evaluator is applying a structure-conduct-performance analytical framework.

Evaluation Stage

The Evaluator carried out the baseline evaluation before the 2015 planting season and, based on the planned project end date in 2018, completed the endline survey before the 2017 planting season. The final evaluation is complete and available here. A final qualitative inquiry will take place after the project ends in 2020 after its one-year extension is complete. Evaluation findings are forthcoming.

Project team