Kenyan Research scientist Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi, 38, (photo) is the recipient of the 2013 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Dr Mutegi made major breakthroughs in combating the deadly aflatoxin mold contamination that occurs in stored grain, which has been a serious problem in Africa and around the world for decades.
Dr Mutegi currently serves as the Kenya Country Coordinator for the Aflasafe Project for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), on assignment from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI),
The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. The Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application recognizes an individual under the age of 40 who emulates the scientific innovation and dedication to food security demonstrated by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug.
Aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mold, is a major concern for farmers and consumers worldwide; it is toxic to people who consume it either directly through contaminated grain, or through milk or meat if livestock have been fed contaminated grain. It is one of the most carcinogenic substances known.
Dr. Mutegi spearheaded efforts to identify the cause of, and solution to, a deadly outbreak of aflatoxicosis in 2004-05, fatal to 125 people in eastern Kenya who consumed contaminated grain.
Her diligent research led to innovative solutions to avert future outbreaks and safeguard the region’s staple crop of maize. Dr. Mutegi is leading efforts for the development of a biocontrol product in Kenya that can be used to significantly reduce aflatoxin levels in maize.