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Toxic cassava caused death of two boys in Kilifi, report on tested samples shows

By JOSEPH MASHA | July 30th 2013

Kilifi,Kenya: The government has confirmed that cassava that was consumed by nine family members and resulted in the death of two boys at Vitengeni in Kilifi County, about a month ago, was poisonous.

According to a report on the food samples by a government chemist, it was discovered that the raw cassava was toxic. The report was signed by government analyst D.K. Ngetha.

Controversy surrounds the origin of the suspected poisonous cassava which has claimed the lives of about five children since last year in Vitengeni Division of Ganze in Kilifi County.

Area residents led by the Msenangu Sweden organisation claimed that the cassava plant tagged as “karembo variety”, was allegedly sent to the region by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) station in Mtwapa.

However, researchers from the institute have denied the allegation, saying the cassava species said to have caused the deaths did not come from Kari.

Benjamin Muli, a researcher from Kari who talked to The Standard on telephone, said the research firm had received many complaints concerning the killer cassava.

And a Ganze district agricultural officer, Mathu Mutua, said they had collected samples of the killer cassava which they sent to Kari for tests to establish its content.

“I cannot tell whether this type of cassava came from Kari or it was on research, but what we have done as an office is write a report and taken samples of the cassava, which we have forward to Kari. They can conduct their own investigations and give their findings,” said Mr Mutua

Last week, researchers from Kari snubbed public meeting at the DO’s office, where the government official read the analysis report on the cassava by the government chemist.

The coordinator of the Msenangu Sweden organisation in Coast Region, James Mulei, demanded compensation from the government for  the families of the five children who died after eating the poisonous cassava.

Mr Mulei further said the government should also order the uprooting of all the toxic cassava from farms in thearea to avoid more deaths.

“Something has to be done to ensure all the suspected poisonous cassava being planted in Vitengeni is removed so as to safeguard the lives of innocent people,” said Mr Mulei.


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