Combating Aflatoxin

According to the FAO, 25% of all crops are affected by aflatoxins. When consumed they can affect the absorption of other nutrients, causing malnutrition. Countries in Africa have lost their export markets due to it. New sources of resistance, novel screening methods and good agricultural practices can cut down contamination.

 Interventions 

  • First portable low-cost rapid aflatoxin detection device developed; mobile sample extraction kit to be ready soon
  • An aflatoxin testing kit developed in-house uses a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) to rapidly detect the presence of aflatoxins
  •  An aflatoxin testing laboratory in Zambia is currently operational and provides service to stakeholders
  • Good agricultural practices (GAPs) identified to reduce pre- and post-harvest aflatoxin contamination
  • Mapping aflatoxin exposure and its impact on nutrition and growth of children in Malawi and Tanzania

Impacts

    • ELISA testing kit: Used by The National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) successfully, in conjunction with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
    • Malawi regained its groundnut export to Europe. In just one area of Malawi, over 4,000 farmers are now exporting groundnuts to Europe under the fair trade agreement
    • Peanut butter processors in Zambia are testing their products. A company has started labelling its product as ‘tested for aflatoxins and safe for consumption’
    • The Zambia Bureau of Standards is establishing national standards for aflatoxin in peanut butter
    • Several resistant sources in groundnut have been identified in Africa and Asia
    • Result demonstrations (2013-15) in farmers’ fields showcasing a set of GAPs versus farmers’ practices showed 62-94% reduction in aflatoxin contamination in groundnut; increase in yield by around 30%, additional net income of around USD 25 per acre.
    • Biotechnology-based breakthrough: Aflatoxin-free groundnut could be developed soon using a ‘Double defense approach’ and check out the infographic here.

This blue-sky research could have great impact in the future. Several private sector and national agricultural research institutes interested in pursuing this biotechnology approach to explore possibilities of incorporating aflatoxin resistance genetic variability in their groundnut breeding programs.

Aflatoxin
Timeline 
Brochure

For more information, see videos:

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