Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 1525–1537 | Cite as

Quantitative and quality losses caused by rodents in on-farm stored maize: a case study in the low land tropical zone of Kenya

  • Kukom Edoh Ognakossan
  • Christopher M. Mutungi
  • Tobias O. Otieno
  • Hippolyte D. Affognon
  • Daniel N. Sila
  • Willis O. Owino
Original Paper


Rodents are one of the major storage pests in on-farm maize storage in the tropics. However, information on actual magnitude of weight and quality losses caused by rodents in maize stores and species of rodent associated with the losses is scarce and if available would help to improve maize postharvest management. Maize stores of small-scale farmers in the lowland tropical zone of Kenya were monitored for actual weight losses caused by rodents and rodent trapping was conducted to determine species and estimate population of the rodents associated with the losses. Moulds and total aflatoxin contamination and nutritional value of rodent-damaged grain and non-damaged grain samples were also compared to evaluate the impact of rodent infestation on grain quality. In a sample of 20 farmers, we found that cumulative weight losses due to rodents ranged from 2.2 to 6.9% in shelled maize grain and from 5.2 to 18.3% in dehusked cobs after storage for 3 months. Rattus rattus was the only rodent species captured over the whole trapping period with a trap success rate of 0.6–10.0%. Total mould count, Fusarium spp. incidence and total aflatoxin contamination were significantly higher in rodent-damaged grains than in the non-damaged ones whereas no significant differences were observed for the incidence of Aspergillus spp. There were also significant decreases in dry-matter, fat, crude protein and fatty acid content in rodent-damaged grain compared to non-damaged grain. These findings show that rodents are a significant cause of postharvest losses in on-farm maize storage and impact negatively on food nutrition and safety. Mitigation strategies for postharvest losses should therefore include rodent control.


Postharvest losses Rodent Fatty acids Moulds Aflatoxin 



The first author was supported through the Dissertation and Research Internship Program (DRIP) of ICIPE. The present study was conducted with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (Grant number: 15.7860.8-001.00; contract number: 81202143) through the RELOAD project. We acknowledge the National Museums of Kenya for directly overseeing the rodent trapping activities of the study. We are also grateful to UK Aid of the UK Government, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Kenyan Government for their core support to ICIPE that facilitated the present work. The authors sincerely thank all the farmers who were involved for their cooperation. They also acknowledge the support provided by Government Agricultural Officers at Kilifi-south sub-county.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Centre of Insect Physiology and EcologyNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Department of Food Science and TechnologyJomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and TechnologyNairobiKenya
  3. 3.World Vegetable Center, West & Central Africa - Dry Regions, Samanko Research StationBamakoMali
  4. 4.Department of Dairy and Food Science and TechnologyEgerton UniversityEgertonKenya
  5. 5.International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)Dar es SalaamTanzania
  6. 6.Mammalogy SectionNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya
  7. 7.Ewaso Lions ProjectNairobiKenya
  8. 8.International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)BamakoMali

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