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 device developed for rapid detection of aflatoxins:  The compact mobile device is based on the lateral flow immunoassay test (popularly known as the strip test as used in a glucometer). The simple test can detect contamination at levels of 10 parts per billion (ppb) in less than 15 minutes. The kit is affordable at under US$ 2. 
  • An aflatoxin testing kit developed in-house uses a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) to rapidly detect the presence of aflatoxins. It has drastically reduced the cost of testing crops from USD 25 to USD 1 per sample
  • An aflatoxin testing laboratory in Zambia is currently operational and provides service to stakeholders
  • Good agricultural practices (GAPs) identified to reduce preand post-harvest aflatoxin contamination, such as the triple layer plastic bags based on “Purdue Improved Crop Storage” technology
  • Mapping aflatoxin exposure and its impact on nutrition and growth of children in Malawi and Tanzania.
 

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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.

Aflatoxin
Timeline 
Brochure

For more information, see videos:

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