Main content area

Occurrence of aflatoxins and its management in diverse cropping systems of central Tanzania

Seetha, Anitha, Munthali, Wills, Msere, Harry W., Swai, Elirehema, Muzanila, Yasinta, Sichone, Ethel, Tsusaka, Takuji W., Rathore, Abhishek, Okori, Patrick
Mycotoxin research 2017 v.33 no.4 pp. 323-331
Aspergillus flavus, Helianthus annuus, aflatoxin B1, behavior change, corn, cropping systems, crops, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, farmers, farming systems, food safety, fungi, multivariate analysis, peanuts, postharvest technology, risk, seeds, stored grain, thin layer chromatography, Tanzania
The staple crops, maize, sorghum, bambara nut, groundnut, and sunflower common in semi-arid agro-pastoral farming systems of central Tanzania are prone to aflatoxin contamination. Consumption of such crop produce, contaminated with high levels of aflatoxin B₁ (AFB₁), affects growth and health. In this paper, aflatoxin contamination in freshly harvested and stored crop produce from central Tanzania was examined, including the efficacy of aflatoxin mitigation technologies on grain/kernal quality. A total of 312 farmers were recruited, trained on aflatoxin mitigation technologies, and allowed to deploy the technologies for 2 years. After 2 years, 188 of the 312 farmers were tracked to determine whether they had adopted and complied with the mitigation practices. Aflatoxigenic Aspergillus flavus and aflatoxin B1 contamination in freshly harvested and stored grains/kernels were assessed. A. flavus frequency and aflatoxin production by fungi were assayed by examining culture characteristics and thin-layer chromatography respectively. AFB₁ was assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The average aflatoxin contamination in freshly harvested samples was 18.8 μg/kg, which is above the acceptable standard of 10 μg/kg. Contamination increased during storage to an average of 57.2 μg/kg, indicating a high exposure risk. Grains and oilseeds from maize, sorghum, and sunflower produced in aboveground reproductive structures had relatively low aflatoxin contamination compared to those produced in geocarpic structures of groundnut and bambara nut. Farmers who adopted recommended post-harvest management practices had considerably lower aflatoxin contamination in their stored kernels/grains. Furthermore, the effects of these factors were quantified by multivariate statistical analyses. Training and behavioral changes by farmers in their post-harvest practice minimize aflatoxin contamination and improve food safety. Moreover, if non-trained farmers receive mitigation training, aflatoxin concentration is predicted to decrease by 28.9 μg/kg on average.