August 29, 2017. Dr. Peetambar Dahal, Asta-Ja RDC Member, at Shikhar Sambad, Himshikhar TV, talking about Dry Chain Food Storage Technology for protecting food from flood damage. For youtube video, please click here.


Rebuilding Nutritional Security of Golden 1000 Days Earthquake hit Families

​Asta-Ja RDC/UNICEF Project

Rebuilding Nutritional Security of Golden 1000 Days Earthquake hit Families is an interdisciplinary food cum health project being implemented by Asta-Ja Research and Development Center (Asta-Ja RDC) with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It is on-going in Banepa municipality-4 (formerly Ugrachandi Nala VDC ) of Kavre district.  We signed the contract on February 1, 2017 and funds became available on the third week of February. We coordinated with stakeholders, procured and distributed the food storage related supplies to the households by March 21, 2017.   For project report, please click here.

Dry Chain technologies for minimizing aflatoxins in food and thereby liver cancer while improving  nutrition and health of children and mothers in Nepal

 Dr. Peetambar Dahal, Seed Scientist (Retired), University of California, Davis, USA (1994-2015).

Dr. John D. Groopman, Professor, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.

Dr. Johan Van Asbrouck, Seed Technologist, Sanarambin, Donmuang, Bangkok, 10210, Thailand.

Dr. Felicia Wu, Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.

Dr. Durga D. Poudel, Professor, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana, USA.

Dr. Keshavulu Kunusoth, Professor, Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University, Hyderabad, India.

Dr. Kent J. Bradford, Professor, Department of Plant Sciences and Director, Seed Biotechnology Center, University of California, Davis, USA.


The mycotoxins notably aflatoxins are linked to liver cancer (Christopher Wild, Director of International Agency for Research on Cancer, (IARC) In order to protect human health, medical researchers and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have asked to improve food storage conditions to minimize the accumulation of mycotoxins (Groopman et al., 2008; IFPRI, 2010; Kensler et al., 2011).

High levels of aflatoxin markers were noticed in blood serum of hospital workers and patients in Kavre district, Nepal (Denning et al., 1990). Another research surveyed the food and feed products in 16 eastern districts during 1995-2003 and found 1/3 of 832 samples contaminated with unacceptable level of aflatoxins (Koirala et al., 2005). Anatomical examination of ruminary tract, liver and kidney of dead goats at Kathmandu feeding on moldy feed and fodder after the rainfall during October, 2010, also supported aflatoxin contamination in the feed chain (Karki, 2011). In addition, there has been a groundbreaking work by Groopman et al. recently at The Johns Hopkins Medical University that documented aflatoxin B1-lysine/mg albumin in pregnant women in Nepal and Bangladesh (Groopman et al., 2014). The range of aflatoxins detected in pregnant women in Sarlahi was higher than in northwest Bangladesh. There is an ongoing aflacohort study at Banke, Nepal, which is led by Nutrition Innovation Lab/USAID that shows ubiquitous aflatoxins in the blood serum of pregnant women. Based on the questions asked to the participants in the study, maize, groundnut and rice have been pointed out as the main source of aflatoxins ( These food crops have previously been identified to be susceptible to toxigenic storage molds. Thus, integrated intervention to minimize aflatoxins in the food sector is urgently needed to improve health of children and mothers.

Dry Chain

Dry Chain technologies which include drying and hermetic/airtight/moisture proof packaging until use minimize aflatoxins infestation and nutrient losses in stored foods and thus improve food security. Such technology has been practiced in pharmaceutical, processing food and seed industry in developed countries. Natural drying of harvested food products to processing or milling moisture content followed by airtight packaging can help minimize weight loss during dry seasons and moisture build-up during humid periods. However, for foods harvested during the rainy season, rapid artificial including desiccant drying is needed before packaging to minimize aflatoxin and insect build up and nutrient losses. Simple and cheap humidicator strips could monitor integrity of packaging during the rainy season and susceptibility of the food to mold, insect and nutrient loss before it happens (Bradford et al., 2016; Realizing the need to minimize dietary exposure to carcinogenic aflatoxins especially in the humid regions in developing countries, a poster on Dry Chain technology titled “Dry Chain Is a Social Preventive Intervention Tool for Liver Cancer by Minimizing Aflatoxins in Dry Foods” was presented at the 25th annual conference of American Institute for Cancer Research during November 14-16, 2016 at North Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

For PDF version of the poster,  please click here.


Bradford, K.J., Dahal, P. and Bello, P. 2016. Using relative humidity indicator paper to measure seed and commodity moisture contents. Agric. Environ. Lett. 1(1), 1-4. doi:10.2134/ael2016.04.0018
Denning, D.W., Sykes, J.A., Wilkinson, A.P., Morgan, M.R.  1990. High serum concentration of aflatoxin in Nepal as measured by enzyme - linked immunosorbant serum assay. Hum Exp Toxicol, 9:143-6.
Groopman, J.D., Kensler, T. W. and Wild, C.P. 2008.  Protective interventions to prevent aflatoxin- induced carcinogenesis in developing countries.  Annu. Rev. Public Health 29: 187–203.
Groopman, J.D., Egner, P.A., Schulze, K.J., Wu, L.S.-F., Merrill, R., Mehra, S., Shamim, A.A., Ali, H., Shaikh, S., Gernand, A., Khatry, S.K., LeClerq, S.C., West Jr, K.P., Christian, P. 2014. Aflatoxin exposure during the first 1000 days of life in rural South Asia assessed by aflatoxin B1-lysine albumin biomarkers.  Food and Chemical Toxicology 74: 184–189. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2014.09.016.
IFPRI. 2010. “Aflatoxins in Kenya: an overview”  (International Food Policy Research Institute).
Karki, K. April, 2011. Clinical epidemiological investigation of moldy grain and fodder poisoning in goat in Kathmandu Valley: A technical report.  Biosciences Biotechnology Research Asia 3(6):30-31. DOI: 10.13005/bbra/913.
Kensler, T.W., Roebuck, B.D., Wogan, G.N., Groopman, J.D. 2011. Aflatoxin: A 50-year odyssey of mechanistic and translational toxicology. Toxicol. Sci. 120 Suppl 1:S28-48. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq283. Epub 2010 Sep 29.
Koirala P., Kumar S., Yadav B.K., Premarajan K.C. 2005. Occurrence of aflatoxin in some of the food and feed in Nepal. Indian J Med Sci. 59(8):331-6.

Youtube Video

Capacity-building and Sustainable Development

Rebuilding Nutritional Security of Golden 1000 Days Earthquake hit Families

Asta-Ja Research and Development Center (Asta-Ja RDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have entered into an agreement for the implementation of a project entitled “Rebuilding Nutritional Security of Golden 1000 Days Earthquake hit Families ” on February 1, 2017. UNICEF is involved in improving early childhood health in Nepal and elsewhere (  Thus, UNICEF has funded Asta-Ja RDC NPR 5,408,150 to implement an interdisciplinary Dry Chain project in a village in Kavre district. The overall objective of this project is to contribute to the reduction of malnutrition among 2015 Gorkha Earthquake affected children and mothers by using simple and scientific food storage Dry Chain technology. The specific objectives are:

 1) To minimize food and nutrition losses through preventive measures to control molds, insects and rodents.

2) To raise awareness about the nutrition sensitive Dry Chain technology by training local communities.

Dr. Peetambar Dahal, Retired Seed Scientist from University of California, Davis, USA, and Asta-Ja RDC Volunteer, has led a team of scientists and staff from Asta-Ja RDC, Dr. Jwala Bajracharya, Dr. Bishnu Chapagain, Mr. Pushpa Lal Mokatan, Mr. Hari Bhusal, and other Asta-Ja RDC volunteers.

For project details please click on the link Asta-Ja RDC UNICEF Project 2017.

Rebuilding Nutritional Security of Golden 1000 Days Earthquake hit Families
​Asta-Ja RDC/UNICEF Project

Please click here

May 4, 2017. Prof. Dr. Achyut Sharma, Asta-Ja ICC Member, gave a presentation entitled “Mold and Human Diseases” in the Central Department of Environmental Science (CDES), Tribhuvan University (TU), Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal. The CDES is one of the newly established Departments at TU. More than 60 students, faculty, and researchers attended the talk. Dr. Udhab Raj Khadka, the treasusrer of Asta-Ja RDC and a faculty member at CDES, Tribhuvan University, coordinated the event. For Dr. Sharma’s PowerPoint presentation please click here.


                         Asta-Ja Research & Development​ Center

                         Kathmandu, Nepal​