Stakeholder dialogue on aflatoxin mitigation in Tanzania
BASF and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) have partnered to host a workshop that brings together stakeholders involved in aflatoxin management to discuss possible solutions for aflatoxin mitigation in Tanzania. This will help advance Tanzania’s national aflatoxin mitigation strategy, and findings can also benefit other countries in the region.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), aflatoxins are a major risk to food security and safety in developing countries. Aflatoxins are natural compounds created by mould that are extremely toxic to humans and animals causing diarrhoea, liver disease and cancer. Inadequate harvest, transport and storage practices are a major contributor to rising aflatoxin infestation. Globally, an estimated 4-5 billion people are at risk of being exposed to poisonous aflatoxin. Children are at higher risk, as aflatoxins cause nutrient deficiency, stunting and delayed development.
Mitigating post-harvest losses requires different stakeholders implementing specific interventions across multiple value chains to enhance food security. The workshop will allow these stakeholders to share information and replicate best practices aimed at finding innovative solutions to food loss. Food losses reduce the income of approximately 470 million farmers and other value chain role players by as much as 15 percent. Aflatoxins account for up to 30 percent of food waste in Africa.
“With the growing challenges surrounding food security, it is imperative to take proper measures to avoid post-harvest food losses and curtail human health hazards. The losses require an integrated innovation strategy that incorporates technology and capacity building across the value chain to achieve an impact on a large scale,” said Enock Musinguzi, Country Representative, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
According to Dr. Andreas Bluethner, Director Food Fortification and Partnerships, BASF Human Nutrition, “As our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are constantly working with key stakeholders along the food value chain to develop innovative solutions to reduce food losses and in turn increase food and nutrition security towards achieving SDG2 of ‘zero hunger’. In view of this, BASF and partners have developed an aflatoxin binding clay (NutraClay), that can be added to foods which will significantly reduce the uptake of aflatoxins.”
Due to the high aflatoxin burden mostly in the Eastern and Western region, Tanzania has been selected as a pilot country for trials for a new aflatoxin binder. Together with local and international partners who hold a wide range of expertise and technical solutions for the application of aflatoxin binders, trials will be carried out where a community in rural Tanzania will be exposed to flour fortified with NutraClay. It is expected that there will be a reduction in the effects of aflatoxins to those exposed to the fortified flour.
Stakeholders drawn from different sectors including academia, government, international and private sectors will combine expertise to provide innovative mitigation solutions that will, in effect, support the government’s efforts toward reducing the effects of aflatoxin exposure to the general population.
BASF’s Food Fortification Initiative is a shared value business, that offers innovative product solutions, technical assistance and scientific capacities to contribute to reducing micronutrient deficiencies. BASF works in over 40 countries by supporting multi-stakeholder alliances and public-private partnerships jointly striving towards sustainable nutritional improvements and a positive social impact. Since 2008, BASF has been actively engaged in Tanzania by lending technical know-how in supporting staple food fortification, such as the production of edible oils with Vitamin A.