Mytox south, Malawi

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

What is / are the social problem(s) addressed by the host organization?

Mycotoxins are one of the broad groups of food contaminants that receive close attention in international trade. Aflatoxins, known to be carcinogenic and immunosuppressive are a notable type of mycotoxins (WHO, 2018).

The socio-economic impacts of aflatoxin contamination in Sub-Saharan Africa can be disastrous. The region of interest for this project is Lilongwe, Malawi, where peanut is an important crop. The crop is valued for soil improvement in cereal-based cropping systems, for improving the livelihoods of farming households who consume it and also sell it for cash, and for earning foreign exchange when exported. However, aflatoxin contamination in peanut production is associated with many negative effects. First, there is the impact on public health. Aflatoxin B1 can cause cancer in humans and animals, and therefore, the concentration should be kept as low as reasonably achievable. Second, aflatoxin contamination causes food waste year after year, since the contaminated lots cannot be sold anymore. As a result, most of the peanut trade has now shifted to domestic and regional markets that do not restrict the sale of aflatoxin-contaminated peanuts. Consequently, the lots are still sold to local consumers who are unaware of the associated aflatoxin exposure, increasing the public health problem. Alternatively, the contaminated peanuts can also be processed in animal feed, consequently extending the mycotoxin problem from human health to animal health. It should be noted that edible tissues and milk from animal origin also contain aflatoxins and metabolites, contributing to the mycotoxin exposure in humans.

Aflatoxin contamination can occur at any stage along the peanut value chain. However, the stage immediately after harvest is a critical stage in aflatoxin management. Therefore, awareness, knowledge and good practices in aflatoxin management during groundnut drying and storage among smallholder farmers are very important. While scientific knowledge on mycotoxin management has increased over the decades, it is still challenging to create mycotoxin awareness and to transfer knowledge and practical solutions to farmers. It is clear that effective measures in 1) prevention or reduction of mycotoxin occurrence in peanuts and 2) training and communication about mycotoxin dangers are needed, in order to increase sustainability of the peanut farms, reduce food waste and enhance human and animal health.

What is the proposed solution for the problem(s) intended to be addressed?

To reduce the exposure to aflatoxins in the population and to minimise food losses, it is important to educate (subsistence) farmers and food business operators on the dangers of mycotoxins and aflatoxin B1 in particular. First, these stakeholders need to be aware that the mycotoxins can be present in the peanut harvest, causing negative health effects in humans and animals. Second, they need to know that agricultural practices and techniques are available to minimize fungal growth on the crops. Therefore, the aim of the proposed project is to establish an effective and sustainable communication and training centre to

  • 1. Create awareness on aflatoxins at the consumer and (subsistence) farmer level

  • 2. Educate and support (subsistence) farmers on aflatoxin management in peanuts

As a result, the peanut quality in Malawi will be improved, which will improve formal and informal trade and public/animal health.

The preparation phase core deliverables are:

– Map peanut value chain in Malawi

– Map the existing peanut farms in Lilongwe and establish contacts with farmers interested to cooperate

– Study aflatoxin mitigation strategies

– Develop an effective communication strategy and materials to educate peanut farmers in Malawi in order to support farmers in mycotoxin management in peanuts and consequently support their social businesses

The implementation phase core deliverables are:

– Deliver a complete overview of the peanut value chain in Malawi

– Establish contacts with peanut farmers in Lilongwe on-site

– Develop a training and communication centre in cooperation with Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources

– Test the efficiency of this communication by educating peanut farmers on aflatoxin management

– Support the farmers in aflatoxin management and consequently support their businesses

project details

What:

  • 1. Study aflatoxin mitigation strategies and Support the farmers in aflatoxin management
  • 2. Deliver a complete overview of the peanut value chain in Malawi
  • 3. Develop a business model for a sustainable communication center
  • 4. Establish contacts with farmers interested to Cooperate

When:
PREPARATION PHASE: OCTOBER 2022 – JUNE 2023
IMPLEMENTATION PHASE: 6 WEEKS IN JULY AND AUGUST

Where: LILONGWE, MALAWI

Applications Deadline: 17th of October 2022

About the project Partner

Partner Organization

Ghent University is a pluralistic university open to all, regardless of ideological, political, cultural or social background. Their credo is ‘Dare to Think’.

The main partner based at Ghent University is MYTOX-SOUTH®, situated at the Centre of Excellence in Mycotoxicology and Public Health. MYTOX-SOUTH® intends to harness the expertise and infrastructure available at UGent to strengthen the capacity of the Southern partners to tackle the mycotoxin problem and the associated food safety and food security issues. This inter-continental partnership will lead to MYTOX-SOUTH® as the number 1 network for mycotoxin research, education and service to society. MYTOX-SOUTH® is a partnership to improve food security & food safety through mitigation of mycotoxins at global level with the following long term goals: to build human capacity, bridge the gap between several fields such as research, industry and society, and to create a sustainable network.

Host organization

The mission of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources is to advance knowledge and produce relevant graduates with entrepreneurship skills for agricultural growth, food security, wealth creation and sustainable natural resources management, through teaching, training, research, outreach, consultancy and sound management.

Its goal is to provide quality education and training in agricultural and natural resources science, engineering and irrigation technologies, agro-processing, entrepreneurship, trade, climate change adaptation, sustainable utilization of natural resources and environmental preservation for socio-economic development.

 

Who are we looking for?

This project team will require highly motivated students with a good knowledge of the English language. Interest in social contact with farmers in Malawi is a plus.  Students of all academic backgrounds are allowed to apply. However, for this project we are especially looking for students with backgrounds or special interest in:

Bio-Engineering

Economics

Pharmacist/Chemist/Nutritionist with interest in food safety

Communication/Social sciences

 

 

If this sounds like the challenge you need in your life, not only to make the world just a little better but also to gain an incredible amount of experience in the process, do not hesitate to apply.

 

Contact

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