Tanzania is a leading producer of maize and groundnuts in East Africa region with the annual maize production exceeding 6 million metric tons while groundnut annual production stands at 1.8 million metric tons as of 2014/2015, making it the 10thproducer in the world with 2% of world production. Maize and groundnuts are the major staple food for Tanzanian population and accounts for 41% and 3% of dietary energy requirements, respectively. It is estimated that the annual per capita consumption of maize is around 128 kg, and nearly 400 grams of maize are consumed per day per person; thus contributing about 34-36% of the average daily calorie intake. However, these crops are highly susceptible to fungal infestation and aflatoxin contamination, which affects the health of consumers and reduce country‘s export earning potential.
Various studies carried out in the country have indicated that 25-45 % of maize is contaminated by aflatoxin. On the other hand groundnuts were reported to be contaminated by high aflatoxin level exceeding the set limits (5 and 10 ppb for B1 and total aflatoxin) in 18% of all samples tested. Among the risks associated with consumption of contaminated maize and groundnuts include immune suppression, malnutrition, liver cancer and death.
A country situational assessment on the aflatoxin problem conducted with the support from Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) confirmed low level of awareness on aflatoxin issues, limited access to guidelines for good agricultural practices and poor storage were behind the prevalence of aflatoxin in maize and groundnuts grown and consumed in Tanzania. Also policies and strategies are absent to combat this problem which creates health and nutritional problems.
Food safety and nutrition security is at the heart of interventions to reduce aflatoxin occurrence. This has economic impact on producers, traders and consumers. In line with the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy, and focus on agriculture as a business rather than just for subsistence, there is a need for a market driven approach. Tanzanian consumers are the prime drivers for the adoption of aflatoxin mitigation efforts as they demand healthy and safe food. Consumer awareness alongside government regulations will influence markets and pricing and create incentives for private sector involvement.
Parts per billion.