Dr. Charity Mutegi
Dr. Mutegi gathering data from a farmer in Kenya
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Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi
Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi, 41, who currently serves as the East Africa Aflasafe Coordinator for the Aflasafe Project for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), on assignment from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), was named the 2013 recipient of the "Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation." At the request of the World Food Prize Foundation, which administers the award, Mamadou Biteye, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Managing Director for Africa, made the announcement during the renowned African Green Revolution Forum in Maputo, Mozambique.
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.
Charity Mutegi was recognized for her efforts in extending the highly effective aflatoxin biocontrol technology, also known as Aflasafe in Africa, from the laboratory to the field and for creating awareness about aflatoxin and its management to various stakeholders. The biocontrol technology was developed by the US Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) and adapted and improved for use in Africa by IITA, USDA-ARS and other partners.
Aflasafe works by introducing naturally occurring non-toxic strains of the fungus, which have a competitive advantage over the strains that produce the deadly aflatoxin. The non-toxic strains outcompete the toxic strains, thus reducing aflatoxin contamination in the maize crop. The microbial bio pesticide “aflasafe KE01” – is affordable for farmers, is natural and environmentally safe, and once applied to a field, the effects last multiple growing seasons, making it extremely effective.
“Dr. Mutegi is an inspiration to other young scientists around the world. She tackled a critical problem, and has effectively transferred her own scientific knowledge to farmers and policymakers to help improve food safety for the entire region,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, President of The World Food Prize. “Like Dr. Borlaug, she has put the needs of people first, and has shown persistence, innovation, effective communication, contribution to science, and application of that science to improve lives and livelihoods.”
Dr. Mutegi was educated at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Post-Harvest Technology. She received her MSc in Food Science and Technology at the University of Nairobi. She earned her PhD at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.