LUANAR Opens Lab to Deal with Toxins in Crops
Malawi is one of the countries in the tropics with warm climate that is favorable to cause post-harvest losses and toxic infestation in crops due to several factors. These are both nature-include and manmade.
They include poor cultivation practices and poor post-harvest handling of crop – all lead to food shortages among subsistence farmers and less income for commercial producers.
To solve the problem, the Natural Resources College (NRC) of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resource (LUANAR) has opened a lab with the help from the United States of America that will be used to certify products so that they are free from toxins.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima graced the launch of the McGovern-Dole Mycotoxin Laboratory on Monday in Lilongwe.
She said she hopes for a significant change in post-harvest handling of crops following the opening of the lab which will be used to screen locally grown crops; thus, providing healthy foods to Malawians.
“This will allow the Malawi government to self-sustain issues of nutrition for school feeding programs,” she added, the lab will also be used by government to certify products for export.
“I’m also happy that the lab will be used by the private sector or the government to make sure that they are exporting quality commodities outside the country.”
She said the lab will help to reduce rejections of commodities from Malawi at international market as the products will be assessed before going on the market.
Speaking at the event, Dean of Food and Nutrition Faculty Associate Professor of LUANAR Dr. Limbikan Matumba said the laboratory has capability to analyze all the regulated mycotoxin and they have enough personnel required for the work.
He added that there is a need for policies that should emphasize on the handling of molds and mycotoxin in Malawi.
“Molds enjoy warm climates. As such, we need strategies which control molds development and reduce mycotoxin contamination but most importantly, we need more emphasis on subsistence consumers because people consume their own products from farming so we need strategies that should control mold and mycotoxin at home stake,” he said.
The project is a partnership of LUANAR, Kansas University of Agriculture from the United States of America (USA) and Nascent Solutions, a female led organization which has integrated socioeconomic development programs in different sectors in the country
According to 2011 research by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Malawi, 21 % of cereal grain is lost between harvest and consumption.
(By Anes Mwale)