IITA strengthens capacity of regulators to monitor scaling out of Aflasafe in Tanzania
To pave way for the mass production and market entry of Aflasafe TZ01—the all-natural, safe, and effective product for aflatoxin control in Tanzania, IITA and the Ministry of Agriculture, organized a three-day training workshop for regulators in the country to increase their knowledge on the technology, how it works, and their role in scaling it out.
IITA developed Aflasafe TZ01 in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and with support from many donors including the USAID mission in Tanzania. It was officially registered in the country on 18 October 2018, and thereafter IITA and the Ministry entered into an agreement with a private company, AtoZ Textiles Limited, to manufacture and distribute Aflasafe TZ01 in Tanzania.
AtoZ will start to produce and distribute Aflasafe TZ01 for the 2019/2020 cropping season, which starts in October and the government regulators will have a very critical role to play in monitoring and regulating its quality and safe use.
The objectives of the workshop, which took place on 20–22 August, were to enable the regulators to get a clear understanding of the product, how it was developed, and its efficacy in reducing aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnut from trials conducted in Tanzania.
In addition, the workshop aimed to share the road map for rolling out the product in the country and the role of the regulators in effectively and efficiently monitoring the production and application of Aflasafe TZ01.
The participants were drawn from regulators in the Plant Health Services of the Ministry of Agriculture from different regions/zones in the country, the Tanzanian Bureau of Standards (TBS), which has the mandate for aflatoxin analysis and food safety issues, and the Tropical Pesticide Registration Institute, with the mandate for pesticide regulation.
Speaking at the event, Beatrice Pallagyo, a Principal Researcher at the Plant Health Services at the Ministry of Agriculture which has the mandat to regulate biocontrol products, noted, “A lot of effort and progress has been made in developing this product, getting it registered, and identifying a company that will mass produce it. We now should not allow it to remain on the shelf. Let us move fast to put the technology in the hands of farmers.”
This was reiterated by George Mahuku, a Plant Pathologist at IITA-Tanzania who is leading efforts to develop and scale-out Aflasafe TZ01 production. “The development of Aflasafe TZ01 is a very clear example of a true and effective partnership, with a very clear goal of an aflatoxin-safe Tanzania. We have a very strong and dedicated private company partner, a very supportive government, a registered product, and clear roles for each partner—all components are in place—therefore let us move to get the product into the hands of the farmers,” Mahuku said.
During the workshop, the participants were taken through the theory of the Aflasafe TZ01 technology and participated in hands-on practical production, quality control, and quality assurance. Julius Nyabicha, a marketing manager at AtoZ company also shared the product’s distribution plans and channels in various regions in the country for easy and efficient access.
The participants were impressed with the technology and now have a better understanding and are ready to play their role as regulators and to be change agents for an aflatoxin-safe Tanzania. They proposed several follow up actions to increase the adoption and use of Aflasafe. These include the need for awareness creation for all stakeholders along the maize and groundnut value chains in Tanzania to create the demand for the product..
They also identified the need to conduct a structured country-wide survey to determine the current status of mycotoxins in the country. The last survey was conducted in 2012 and only in a few selected regions. Participants also noted the need for an update on aflatoxin prevalence in the country, especially in the face of repeated cases of Aflatoxicosis. The survey should involve multiple stakeholders drawn from MoA, IITA, NBS, TBS, the Partnership for Aflatoxin in Africa (PACA), and the private sector.