TANZANIA – Atoxigenic-based technology for biocontrol of aflatoxin reduces contamination by over 85% in maize and groundnut crops in Tanzania, a study has reported.

The report follows a study carried out by scientists from multiple organizations that applied Aflatoxin biocontrol products, Aflasafe TZ01 and TZ02, to test their efficacy on maize and groundnut crops.

The biocontrol products used contained atoxigenic isolates of Aspergillus flavus -the non-toxin-producing strains— and the efficacy tests were conducted over two years in four regions of Tanzania where aflatoxin contamination is most prevalent.

According to the study data, the two products significantly reduced aflatoxin levels in maize and groundnut by over 85% in all four regions indicating that both products are effective tools for aflatoxin mitigation in groundnut and maize.

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring toxic compounds produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus, which is a global health threat because of their acute and chronic health effects on humans and domesticated animals.

The study aimed to minimize aflatoxin contamination of maize and groundnut through the adoption of biocontrol products in a bid to help farmers in Tanzania produce aflatoxin-safe food.

This follows that, while efforts to scale agricultural productivity to achieve the sustainable development goals of food safety and security and zero hunger are being promoted in sub-Saharan Africa,

Aflatoxin contamination is negatively affecting food production, consequently threatening food safety and security in Africa.

The study involved collaboration from multiple organizations including CGIARIITA; Plant Health Services of Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture; the Department of Research of Tanzania’s Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries; National Biological Control Center; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)

From the study, scientists revealed that aflatoxin producers are pervasive in warm agricultural areas where they occupy soil and colonize diverse organic matter.

In Tanzania, maize and groundnut account for over 40% of the calorie intake, and on average each Tanzanian consumes 520 g of maize and groundnut per day according to FAO.

In addition, most of the Tanzanian population are subsistence agricultural farmers who consume most of what they produce. Therefore, the highest impact of aflatoxin is on the health of the local population.

According to scientists, adopting the technology would protect Tanzanian populations from the adverse effects of aflatoxins by improving health and increasing chances for greater income for smallholder farmers.

In addition, it would also significantly increase farmers’ chances of meeting stringent aflatoxin thresholds imposed by local and international premium markets.

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