Experts gathered in Africa to make food and feed free of aflatoxins

A team of scientists from 13 African nations and beyond have gathered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this week to advance efforts to improve the health of Africans by reducing exposure to aflatoxins.
The participants of this Second Aflatoxin Biocontrol Workers’ Network Workshop are focusing on progress made in rolling out Aflasafe, an effective and safe biological control product which reduces the prevalence of aflatoxins in treated maize and groundnut by 80 – 99% from farm to fork.
“The workshop participants will take stock of the current status of aflasafe development in various countries, discuss research protocols, and provide a platform to network and understand each other’s work. The result will be a shared understanding of the needs for future developments of biocontrol in Africa,” said Dr Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, Senior Plant Pathologist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)- Nigeria, and team leader of IITA’s aflasafe projects.
Aflatoxins are highly toxic chemicals produced mainly by fungi in several food crops. Aflatoxins cause cancer and liver disease, suppress the body’s immune system, retard the growth of children, and in cases of extreme poisoning, lead to rapid death of both humans and livestock.
Aflatoxins also hamper trade. Globally, about US$1.2 billion in commerce is lost annually due to aflatoxin contamination, with African economies losing US$450 million each year due to lost trade.
The biological control method for aflatoxin control was developed by United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and modified for Africa by IITA, USDA-ARS, and many national and regional partners.
The biocontrol product uses native strains of A. flavus that do not produce aflatoxins but are able to out-compete and displace their aflatoxin producing relative, thus reducing contamination in crops and throughout the environment.
“Biological control products such as Aflasafe provide farmers with a safe, simple solution that protects their crops on the farm and in storage saving them a long list of tasks to carry out to prevent their crops from being contaminated with aflatoxins,” said Prof Peter Cotty, a Research Plant Pathologist at USDA-ARS, who pioneered the original technology.
Aflatoxin contamination is particularly a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa where it greatly threatens efforts to achieve food security and reduce poverty in the rural communities. In East Africa major fatalities and economic losses have been incurred recently due to aflatoxin contamination.
In Tanzania, recent media reports suggest that nine people died and many others fell ill from suspected aflatoxin poisoning, while in Kenya over 400,000 bags of maize in government stores have been reported to be contaminated and not fit for human consumption.
The effectiveness of biocontrol has seen products developed and registered for commercial use in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and The Gambia while other countries such as Burundi, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia are in the process of product development and registration.
The four-day workshop, 11 – 14 July, is funded by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of USDA and IITA, and brought together over 50 participants including researchers, farmers’ groups, national program partners, officials from regional and international organizations, policy makers, and donors.
The workshop followed an earlier one held at the USDA-ARS labs at the University of Arizona, USA in 2012.
Source :, Engormix

Fungi and Mycotoxins in Silage–An Overview

The present revision shows the early and current knowledge in the field of silage fungi and mycotoxins explaining the relevance of fungi and mycotoxins in silage. The problem does not end in animal disease or production losses as mycotoxins in feed can lead to the presence of their metabolic products in dairy products, which will be eventually affecting human health, mainly infants. Silage is green forage preserved by lactic fermentation under anaerobic conditions. This ecosystem maintains its quality and nutritional value depending on interactions among physical, chemical and biological agents. Forages used for ensilage are naturally in contact with yeasts and filamentous fungi, and the contamination often occurs in the field and can also occur during harvesting, transport, storage. Moreover, postharvest poor management can lead to a rapid spoilage. Studies on fungal contamination of dairy cattle feed have shown how corn silage influences the contamination degree of feed supplied to livestock. Increasing knowledge in this area will help elucidate the influence that this microbiota exerts on production and/or degradation of mycotoxins present in silage. Some of these fungi, although opportunist pathogens, are relevant epidemiologically and represent a high risk of contamination to farm workers who handle them improperly.

Authors=V.A. Alonso 1,2 , C.M. Pereyra 1,2 , L.A.M. Keller 3,4 , A.M. Dalcero 1,5 , C.A.R. Rosa 3,4 , S.M. Chiacchiera 5,6 and L.R. Cavaglieri 1,5
1 Depto de Microbiologia e Inmunologia, UNRC, Río Cuarto, Argentina, 2 CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 3 Depto de Microbiología e Imunologia Veterinaria, Universidade Federal Rural do Río de Janeiro, Brazil, 4 Conselho Nacional de Pesquisas Cientificas, Río de Janeiro, Brazil 5 CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina 6 Departamento de Quíimica, UNRC, Río Cuarto, Argentina


Lilia R. Cavaglieri, Departamento de Microbiologia e Inmunologia, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Ruta 36 km 601 (5800) Río Cuarto, Córdoba, Argentina.  E-mail:

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The European Union has extended its ban on beans export from Nigeria  by a further 3 years, says a recent reliable report which quoted a top official of the Nigerian Agricultural  Quarantine Service(NAQS). The earlier 1 year ban was to terminate on June 30 2016. The interpretation of this action is that the initial 1-year ban was a ‘soft yellow card ‘ ban which if nothing was done to address the issues raised would attract a tougher ban. Now, here comes the PENALTY ……..and the cheapest source of plant protein in Nigeria is facing rejection abroad !!!!. Obviously, this is a reaction in annoyance.


1 The EU has noted that its earlier warning was disregarded. It may now focus on other crops   and other contaminants like mycotoxins

2 Trade imbalance will further widen between Nigeria and the EU

3 Further reduction in foreign earnings to Nigeria even when bean export earns Nigeria less than 1% of earnings


1 What measures were put in place by Nigeria between then and now to address the infraction complained about the chemical-dichlorvos –administered on beans ?.

2.What are the steps taken by Nigeria farmers and exporters of beans to reduce the level of dichlorvos between last year and now?

3 Specifically, what are the statutory steps to be taken by NAQS in situations like this, beyond releasing the bad news? If these steps were taken why did they still; attract this elongated ban? If not why were they not taken ?

4 If appropriate steps were NOT taken by Nigeria , then will it not be  safe to mention words like ‘incompetence’, ‘negligence’, ‘disconnect’, ‘lack of extension service’, ‘lax monitoring approach’?

5 If the EU considers beans produced and marketed in Nigeria as toxic and dangerous to the health of her citizens, why should a Nigerian consumer  consider same to be safe for consumption?



1Government should encourage public-private partnership in setting up analytical laboratories that will serve farmers and exporters

2 More extension workers should be employed with their skills regularly enhanced….and with incentives

3 Regular meetings of all stakeholders in the food and feed safety line

4 There must be collaboration between the EU and Nigeria on regular capacity building, interventions and other measures that will enhance health and international trade through wholesome food consumption


DF June 2016



Both maize and soya production are likely to increase in Nigeria coupled with steady reduction in importation, The farmers are likely to smile to the banks in the months ahead. Going by the paradise-projection by the President of Poultry Association of Nigeria Dr Oduntan, its indeed eureka for farmers , feedmillers and the producers of poultry and its derivatives. Great. One significant aspect that merits mention is the safety .

Farmers and exporters are advised to focus more on contaminants on these poultry feed ingredients. Making them safe in terms of compliance with global standards on mycotoxins and pesticides residues is a guarantee of high economic and nutritive value at the European markets.

A nexus between agriculture and health has given greater responsibility to agriculture. This is because good agriculture transforms to good health. Arising from this, in Nigeria , the Senate Committee on Health invited Stakeholders to a meeting  on June 3, 2016. The Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria and other institutions like the SON, NAFDAC, CPC  were also invited

The report will dictate the road map for food safety and Health in Nigeria




The FAO believes that 30% of African children are malnourished and stunted. Biofortification, a process by which crops are bred such that their nutritional  value increases. This approach,  which is cheaper than adding micronutrients to an already processed food, is a smart way to fight malnutrition. High iron beans and  orange fleshed sweet potatoes are being produced with success and the consumers in Uganda are feeling better nourished so reported Africa Renewal, a publication of the United Nations. Under the ;Agriculture for Health’ programme, Nigeria has incorporated pro vitamin A cassava and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme whole goal is to reach 2.5 million farming households. The scheme was the started by the former Agriculture Minister Dr Akinwumi Adesina

PACA Country officer -Nigeria

The PACA Country for Nigeria . A retired Director in a government regulatory agency, has been tipped to be the Nigeria Country Officer for PACA. The officer is highly qualified and has in-depth knowledge about food safety, international dimension to it and fully involved in the Aflasafe project


Congratulations Nigeria  as confirmation is expected soonest

IARC new report: fungal toxins and Africa’s children health

Dear All,

we invite you to carefully read this important press release from IARC

– Lyon, France, 17 February 2016 –

A Working Group of world-leading experts convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) reviewed the health effects of aflatoxins and fumonisins.

The panel concluded that these mycotoxins are not only a cause of acute poisoning and cancer but are also a likely contributor to the high levels of stunting in children in affected populations.

The Working Group also identified effective measures to reduce exposure in developing countries.
These recommendations have been published in the report Mycotoxin Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, which is available in English, French, and Spanish.

The report stresses the need for a coordinated international response to the problem of mycotoxin
contamination of food
,” says Dr Christopher Wild, Director of IARC. “Its health impact has been neglected for too long. We have the tools to make a difference. Now we must find the political will.”

An estimated 500 million of the poorest people in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia are
exposed to the pervasive natural toxins, aflatoxins and fumonisins, on a daily basis by eating their staple diet of groundnuts, maize, and other cereals. Exposure occurs throughout life at levels far in excess of internationally accepted norms. This contrasts starkly with the situation in developed countries, where people and livestock are protected by good agricultural practices, regulation, and legislation.

Exposure to mycotoxins at these high levels substantially increases mortality and morbidity. Aflatoxin is a cause of human liver cancer, and fatalities from outbreaks of acute aflatoxin poisoning occur in Africa and Asia. Evidence from population studies and the effects of the toxins in animals also suggest that
mycotoxins contribute to stunting in young children.

Worldwide, more than 160 million children younger than 5 years are stunted. Improving mycotoxin control could have a far-reaching health benefit,” says Dr J. David Miller, Chair of the IARC Working Group. “It is time to put the existing knowledge and technology into action to control mycotoxin food contamination in low-income countries.”

The panel also evaluated 15 interventions against mycotoxins, considering the strength of the evidence as well as its completeness and transferability at an individual, community, or national level. Four of the measures were judged to be ready for implementation.

The IARC Working Group Report’s recommendations provide a reliable foundation for investment of
public, nongovernmental organization, and private funds to tackle this neglected problem
,” says Dr
Sindura Ganapathi of the Global Health Program at the BMGF
. “What is needed now is effective
translation of the vast body of science through to subsistence and smallholder farmers in order to make a difference

Download the report:

Wild CP, Miller JD, Groopman JD, editors (2015). Mycotoxin Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC Working Group Report No. 9).


Best regards

Source=Antonio F. Logrieco

February 2016

New Sorghum Varieties Released in Nigeria with Higher Iron, Yields and Drought Resilience

Source: ICRISAT (26 Feb 2016)
Author: n/a
Two new highly nutritional sorghum varieties have been released in Nigeria. Both varieties have yields that double the local varieties; one has an iron content that is three times higher. Both are drought resistant. These improved varieties were developed by a team of scientists in the Nigerian national system and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). “The newly released varieties can help overcome periods of drought especially terminal drought problems prevalent in the Nigerian (Sudan and Sahel) ecologies because they are early maturing, with 50% flowering in 67 days against the 90 days on average of other varieties,” said Dr. Ignatius Angarawai, a Scientist – Sorghum Breeding at ICRISAT Kano. And, he added, “Sorghum has been recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers because of its high caloric and nutritional value. There are cases of ‘hidden hunger,’ a deficit of iron and zinc which naturally exist in sorghum, among low income farmers who sell most of their production for household consumption.” The new varieties are also resulting in less emergence of the deadly striga weed compared to other varieties on trial. more


Nigerians expect the year 2016 to witness an upscale in the standards in the agricultural sector in a manner that will rub off positively on the human health and export.. In 2015, the Nigerian agric export suffered a set back as the EU placed a 1 year ban on the importation of beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips and palm oil from Nigeria . The ban which ends in June 2016 was due to the continuous detection of pesticides and aflatoxins at levels higher than acceptable. Aflatoxins are poisons produced by moulds on these and other susceptible crops when exposed to conducive environment. These favourable conditions are present in Nigeria and sub Saharan Africa.

One aflatoxin has been placed on the list of group 1 carcinogen, confirming its being a human carcinogen. A 2013 report released by Partnership for Aflatoxin Ccntrol in Africa, PACA , sponsored by the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation and DFID stated that more than 70% of all liver cancer cases in Nigeria were attributable to aflatoxin ingestion. PACA, is a continental but country-led initiative,

Stakeholders expect that food production and food safety should be on same front page in the policy road map of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in 2016.

As we approach June 2016, what steps and feedback evaluation mechanisms re being put in place to launch Nigeria back to the EU and global agricultural platforms ? Capacity building and holistic solution provision measures must be attained and sustained. It will be a disaster if, after June, Nigeria is once again caught in another embarrassing ban web. In every four Africans there ‘s one Nigerian; and for every two West Africans, there’s also one Nigerian. This demographic advantage should naturally confer leadership on Nigeria in every department including meeting standards in aflatoxin –free local food consumption and global agricultural trade. It is a challenge the Hon Minister of Agric is competent to address.

 Dele Fapohunda


Feb 09 2016