TANZANIA – The government through Tanzania Initiatives for Preventing Aflatoxin Contamination (TANIPAC) project is implementing the construction of modern silos, warehouses, and laboratories as the country makes significant strides in the fight against aflatoxin in food crops.
Aflatoxins are poisons produced by certain fungi that are found on crops such as maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts. It is a serious problem with harmful effects on human and animal health and the maize and groundnut trade.
The fight against aflatoxin follows that, in 2016, a report issued by the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology showed that Tanzania is losing over 264 million US dollars due to aflatoxins.
In addition, a survey conducted in 2012 covering the entire country showed that more than 90 percent of samples collected had detectable aflatoxin levels and 31 percent had aflatoxin levels above the maximum allowable level for maize destined for human consumption (10 microgram/kg) and some samples had levels as high as 163 microgram/kg).
Elaborating on the project, the TANIPAC Project Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Mr Kassim Msuya said that the project is being implemented in 18 councils in Tanzania Mainland and two councils in Zanzibar started in April this year and is envisioned to be completed in May next year.
He noted that the project is designed within the context of Tanzania Development Vision 2025 which places a high priority on the agriculture sector.
According to him, the state-of-the-art laboratory worth 16.7bn/- (U.S$6.6 million) will be used for studying biological disease-causing organisms that affect agriculture.
He added that once complete, it will enable farmers and businesses to enhance profit since they can compete in the market nationally and internationally.
According to him, farmers have long been inconvenienced especially when, unfortunately, their products test positive for aflatoxin at the border.
“This will make sure all the crops produced are tested and fed to the market while all the produce that will enter the strategic market is already examined with high security”.
In terms of warehouses, Mr. Msuya says they have built 14 warehouses for 14bn/- (U.S$5.6 million) in the Tanzania mainland to allow other stakeholders especially the private sector adapt to the projects implemented.
Furthermore, to ensure that the project is well implemented with quality, TANIPAC involved the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) to facilitate the monitoring of aflatoxin.
Center to prevent aflatoxin biologically
Mr. Msuya said that TANIPAC is in the ongoing project of a biological center at Kibaha worth 3.8bn/- (U.S$1.5million) which is expected to complete by the end of this month.
He added that TANIPAC will as well create bylaws for the local government to enforce the adoption of the recommended Good Agricultural Practices and technologies (GAP) among the farmers, transporters, processors, and other actors along the value chains of maize and groundnuts.
According to him, research indicates that the problem of aflatoxin is solved by 80 percent if actors in the value chains adopt Good Agricultural Practices and technologies.
Moreover, Msuya said that to ensure the awareness of aflatoxin to farmers, they have trained more than 400 youth adding that they have also constructed 20 silos in every district during the implementation of the project.
Silos are aimed at helping small farmers keep their crops like maize as the best storage alternative at the household level.
Meanwhile, he urges farmers and all Tanzanians to take serious precautions regarding the aflatoxin issues because its impact is very huge, especially on human health.