TANZANIA – Tanzania, with the support from the United States Agency for International Development has developed a new technology that reduces aflatoxin contamination in food by 80-90%.

The technology known as Aflasafe TZ helps to reduce contamination of the poisonous chemical in both food and animal feed thus, rendering them safe for human consumption.

Developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, it can also help the country meet high standards for export, boosting international trade.

Commercialization of the project will be done by IITA-led Aflatoxins Technology Transfer and Commercialization Initiative (aTTC) to ensure its availability and accessibility to the farming communities.

Ms Catherine Njuguna, a communication expert with the organisation said commercialization of Aflasafe products will be undertaken with technical support from Dalberg Global Development Advisors and Chemonics International.

“Its registration with the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) is almost complete,” she said.

In addition to an investor’s forum arranged in the country’s capital to discuss the business opportunities available in the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of Aflasafe products in the country, the groups are validating strategies such as outlining market projections, manufacturing feasibility and distribution scenarios.

“This meeting is very important in efforts to reduce aflatoxin contamination in Tanzania after more than six years of research,” said Mr Abdou Konlambigue, aTTC managing director.

According to him, the technology is already registered and commercialized in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and Gambia.

Losses in the European market

The Guardian reported that Africa is losing about US$670 million annually in exports as they are blocked in the European market as a result of aflatoxin contamination.

Such is linked to deficiencies in storage and post-harvest handling processes in common crops such as maize, rice, wheat, sorghum, pearl millet, oilseeds and others.

Nigeria’s Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) claimed that the country loses about US$155 million and 5,000 persons to liver cancer yearly, while Africa loses US$670m to the scourge.

They explained that aflatoxin was responsible for the disappearance of the groundnut pyramids in the North.

In the East African Community (EAC) bloc, aflatoxin growing in grains contaminates about 40% of food commodities traded locally.

Last month, the EAC launched a regional programme to prevent and control the menace which it says impacted on the region’s efforts for foods security besides posing health hazards to people.