SATH initiative to focus on minimizing groundnut aflatoxin contamination

by Wallace Mawire




The Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH) is planning to partner with organizations in need of technical assistance along the groundnut value chain to minimize risk of aflatoxin contamination, according to a SATH spokesperson.
According to SATH, groundnuts are one of Southern Africa’s most important crops, but contamination by the carcinogenic fungus aflatoxin has become a public health issue and a significant barrier to trade. Risks associated with the fungus include liver cancer, impaired growth for children under five and suppression of the immune system.

“Shipments of groundnuts with aflatoxin levels over 4 parts per billion cannot be sold. Consignments are tested for aflatoxin levels prior to export and are rejected if they fail, damaging exports, undermining food security and lowering farmer profits. The trade losses attributed to aflatoxin contamination overall are US$1.2 billion globally and US$450 million per annum across Africa,” SATH says.

In response, the Southern Africa Trade Hub reports that it has devised a system of interventions applicable at critical points along the groundnut value chain to decrease the risk of aflatoxin contamination. The Hub says it is partnering with organizations in need of technical assistance to put these methods into widespread practice.

Post-Harvest Interventions:

·        Infield drying/ curing

·        On farm storage

·        Stripping

·        Pre-sheller grading

·        Buying incentives

·        Transport and warehouses

·        Mechanical shelling

·        Sorting

·        Blanching

·        Oil Extraction and filtering

·        Detoxification of peanut meal

·        Packaging, transport and storage

·        Aflatoxin testing

In November 2012  the Trade Hub reports that it rolled out an “Aflatoxin Roadshow” to educate traders, processors and farmers’ unions on effective methods to reduce contamination.
In collaboration with Twin, a UK-based NGO, the Hub educated value chain actors on improved post-harvest handling practices to prevent the growth of aflatoxin and protect the market value of this important crop.

The roadshow is reported to have  made stops in Lilongwe, Malawi; Napula, Mozambique; and Lusaka, Zambia.
It was attended by 94 participants, including groundnut exporters and importers, farmer associations, NGOs, research institutions, government officials and processors.
“Via these attendees, the information has the potential to reach four exporters in the region, 520 affiliate associations, 130,000 farmers and to impact 20,000MT of groundnut production valued at US$16 million in Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi,” SATH says.

The roadshow is said to have presented the results from last year’s joint study between the Trade Hub and Twin on aflatoxin mitigation measures and focused on critical control points such as field drying, shelling and bagging for storage.

Through the roadshow and other measures, the Trade Hub is acting as a catalyst to encourage cooperation among all the players of the groundnut value chain, which will help transform the industry and increase smallholder farm earnings.
“With collaboration, the industry can obtain the support it needs for significant growth: including financing, a certified laboratory for testing and central collection points for mechanical shelling,” SATH says.

The roadshow was co-sponsored by USAID’s Feed the Future programs Profit+ in Zambia, AgriFuturo in Mozambique and INVC in Malawi.
The workshops will be followed up with a strategy to accelerate adoption of aflatoxin-reduction strategies by producer organizations in order to help Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi become trusted sources of peanuts, increasing demand and encouraging exports to regional and international markets.

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