MALAWI – Agriculture stakeholders are considering creating awareness of post-harvest handling among farmers in a bid to minimize predisposing factors to aflatoxin in maize and other grains.
Convened by the Mwapata Institute at Ufulu Gardens in Lilongwe, the stakeholders expressed concerns with the rate at which aflatoxin is spreading in groundnuts and other grains, saying this is negatively impacting commodities’ international markets and human health status.
The meeting was also attended by various farmers, donor communities, civil society organizations, government departments, and the agriculture ministry and it was under the theme: ‘Understanding Aflatoxin Contamination in Malawian Grains’.
The concerns follow a study by the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) that found that most farmers do not know more about aflatoxin which is affecting agricultural commodity markets due to poor handling.
William Chadza, Mwapata Institute’s Executive Director noted that the impact has hit the agricultural diversification aspect hard in terms of commodities the country can put on the foreign market as well as pauses the human risks to consumers as they are also consumed by Malawians at the household level.
He, therefore, suggested that there should be more awareness of how to handle the grains after harvest to avoid aflatoxin.
”With a lot of awareness in terms of practice both at farmer level in production and also managing the harvest. They should not expose them to situations that can increase levels of toxins’, he added.
Ronald Ngwira, the managing director for Mwapata applauded such kind of research noting that research of these kinds is essential in the implementation of MW2016 visions.
”We need to export more products and if our grains are to be accepted, we have to be free from aflatoxins. As indicated, we have high levels of aflatoxins in maize, groundnuts as well as beans hence something must be done”, said Ngwira
Meanwhile, Professor Limbikani Matumba from LUANAR has assured the general public that all is not lost as current challenges can be corrected.
He says people should not stop taking the grains as they are healthy for their bodies.