TANZANIA – Tanzania’s A to Z Textile Mills has unveiled plans of investing US$1.52million (Tsh 3.5bn) in establishing a factory that will be producing Aflasafe, a technology to combat aflatoxin in grains and cereals.

This follows an agreement between A to Z and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in conducting research on aflatoxin that saw successful development of the product.

Mr Kalpesh Shah, chief executive of A to Z Textile Mills, said the firm was particularly proud of being part of a committed team that had researched for years to fight against aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts in Tanzania.

Mr Kalpesh, who was speaking during the signing of the Technology Transfer and Licencing Agreement, highlighted the negative effects of aflatoxin to include impact on health, loss of trade and reduced agricultural productivity.

“A to Z Textile Mills will invest about Tsh 3.5 billion (US$1.52 million) in the Aflasafe project, a product expected to be in the market by the end of this year.

“Testing of aflatoxin is a key component of its control and the company through its Research and Development (R&D) facility, Africa Technical Research Centre (ATRC), will produce modern aflatoxin lab equipment for product testing and for quality control during and after manufacturing.

Those processes are expected to be complete for the product launch later in the year,” he said.

He noted that A to Z had passionately participated in providing agricultural solutions as well as public health solutions.

According to a Daily News report, the firm has in the last four years introduced a range of agricultural products such as hermetic bags, aimed at improving productivity and profitability for smallholder farmers as well as enhancing food safety and security.

“We recognise and commend the government for post-harvest interventions in the grain sector and in particular the aflatoxin prevention intervention that has been put in place through the Tanzania Initiative for Preventing Aflatoxin Contamination (Tanipac).

“We, therefore, hope to work together with many other stakeholders to ensure the real impact of Aflasafe is felt at farm level through awareness creation and efficient distribution networks,” said Mr Kalpesh.

IITA Partnership for Delivery Deputy Director General, Dr Kenton Dashiell, said that through IITA’s business incubation platform (BIP), the organisation has been able to accelerate and strengthen innovation through partnerships with the private sector.

“Thus, serve as a functional bridged between IITA and the private sector in a mutually beneficial manner. IITA needs its technologies to reach farmers.

“It exists to serve and the private sector welcomes a market ready post-R&D product where IITA has already invested in product development and statutory registration.

“BIP translates relevant findings from research into a commercially viable product to serve as a better mechanism for technology transfer from advance agricultural research to the private sector,” Dr Dashiell explained.