Stakeholders discuss biopesticide registration in Malawi
A two-day stakeholders’ review meeting was held at the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. The aim was to discuss the existing policies and regulations on biopesticide registration with relevant stakeholders and solicit their input on a ‘Guidance Document’ for streamlining registration in Malawi. The document was developed by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and partners to guide the regulatory framework for registration of microbial biopesticides in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, who officially opened the workshop, said interventions aimed at reducing aflatoxin contamination levels in crops like maize and groundnut can improve food safety and security for millions of Malawians.
Chaponda also remarked that the Government of Malawi will keenly follow the progress on the process of registering Aflasafe™ to deal with the challenge of aflatoxins. The minister jokingly said he may have to reconsider eating nsima, considering that he might not be sure whether the maize from which the nsima is made from had aflatoxins or not.
“As a Government, we are aware that dietary exposure to aflatoxin contaminated maize-based products has been associated with various human health-related conditions including the high incidence of liver cancer, growth retardation in children, reproduction impairment, and the suppression of immune responses. We commend IITA and all the other stakeholders for coming up with this intervention which will go a long way in minimizing the problems of aflatoxins in diverse crops. And the Government of Malawi will ensure that Aflasafe™ gets registered as quickly as possible”, he said.
IITA and the United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) are working with the national institutions for developing Aflasafe™ in Malawi. The ‘Guidance Document’ will assist the national regulatory authorities to steer the registration process of Aflasafe™ for eventual commercialization in Malawi and also help in the registration of other biopesticides.
Martin Banda, who represented the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at the workshop, said the agency is committed to improving the agricultural sector in Malawi.
Speaking on behalf of the IITA Malawi Country Representative, Joseph Atehnkeng, plant pathologist at IITA Malawi said two Aflasafe™ products are being developed in Malawi, where close to 300 farmers tested the products during the last cropping season. The field trials are necessary to gather efficacy data required for registration of Aflasafe™ in Malawi. He further informed that Aflasafe™ products had been registered in Nigeria, Kenya, and Senegal and field evaluation of Aflasafe™ products is ongoing in other African countries. The process and lessons learned from the registration of Aflasafe™ SN01 in Senegal were shared by Alejandro Ortega-Beltran, a plant pathologist at IITA Ibadan. IITA is also committed to the development of human capacity and infrastructure to enable continuous biocontrol research in the Malawi.
The meeting was attended by close to 50 stakeholders from national research institutes and academic institutions, such as the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR); the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST); and the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS). Regulatory institutions included the Pesticides Control Board (PCB); the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS); and the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board.
The workshop was sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture–Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) and AATF.