Feed the Future Supports Food Safety through Research on Crop Contamination

April 30, 2012

Two new research projects in Tanzania aim to decrease contamination of key staple foods by helping scientists and policymakers to understand the extent of mycotoxin contamination in food and to develop a long-term solution for reducing mycotoxin in Tanzanian crops. Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by toxic fungi that frequently colonize crops in the field and during storage, making them unsafe for human and livestock consumption (aflatoxins are among the most common types of mycotoxins).

With co-funding from the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), Feed the Future is supporting a six-month period of research to be carried out by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in partnership with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Cooperatives; Sokoine University of Agriculture; the Tanzanian Food and Drug Administration; USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS); Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences; Doreo Partners; and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.

The research will focus on establishing the extent and spread of mycotoxin contamination of maize and cassava on farms and in the markets of Dodoma and Manyara. A second initiative (also co-funded by PACA) aims to introduce a safe and natural technology developed by USDA-ARS and IITA to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts. This technology has been successfully piloted in Nigeria, where it has been shown to reduce aflatoxin contamination by up to 99 percent.