A new technology that detects aflatoxins on location was developed by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and it was formally released on Tuesday. The rapid test kit device is also affordable at under US$ 2.
This exciting advancement combined with a mobile extraction kit that will be ready in two months, will be the first portable cost-effective way for farmers and others to detect aflatoxins instantly.
With funding from the McKnight Foundation and in collaboration with partners including the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi-NASFAM, Farmers Union Malawi (FUM), Kamuzu Central Hospital and Nkhoma Hospital, Malawi, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) developed the rapid test kit for aflatoxins. It is a simple non-laboratory based kit that can be used directly by non-technical people such as farmers, agro-dealers and food processors. Currently, the test can be applied to detect aflatoxin in groundnuts.
The test kit launched officially by Dr. Wilkson Makumba, Director, Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), Lilongwe at ICRISAT-Malawi, requires limited technical knowledge or training and can be done on location.
The new test is simple to perform and can detect contamination at levels of 10 parts per billion (ppb) in less than 15 minutes. “The device will contribute to manage and reduce the entry of aflatoxins in the food value chains, improve diagnosis for local and export trade and support the food processing industry to maintain low exposure levels in food products in our local markets as well as for export markets,” said Dr. Anitha Seetha, Scientist, ICRISAT, Malawi. Groundnut, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, chilies, pistachios, cassava and other food products are contaminated by aflatoxin each year.
“ICRISAT has been working with smallholder farmers in Africa to combat the aflatoxin problem. This kit will enable rapid and cost-effective deployment by the government and private sector to protect public health and also improve the export prospects for African countries,” said Dr. David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.