In the 1960s, sub-Saharan Africa was responsible for 90% of global peanut exports (referred to as groundnuts in Africa). Today, this figure has fallen to less than 5%, largely due to strict import controls on the food contaminant aflatoxin. This toxin is produced by a mould which grows on a variety of staple crops (including groundnuts) and costs Africa $750m in export losses to the EU each year. Globally, the consumption of contaminated foods also leave 4.5 billion people chronically exposed to aflatoxin, contributing to immune disorders, cancer and childhood stunting.
Market access and public health
Aflatoxin contamination is the primary barrier to accessing international markets for groundnut farmers. Unsafe nuts not suitable for export often end up on unregulated local markets in Africa, where they are widely consumed. Twin therefore take a holistic approach to aflatoxin management that both mitigates the risk of contamination along the value chain to improve market access and increase farmer incomes, while also addressing its serious public health impacts.
Collaborative project development
Twin has partnered with USAID, South African Trade Hub (SATH), DFID Malawi, and the Malawi Oilseeds Sector Transformation (MOST) programme to mobilise a sector-wide response to the challenge of aflatoxin. We began with a full value chain analysis to identify critical contamination points from a pro-poor market perspective to ensure better livelihoods for smallholders. A multi-disciplinary control and management approach was developed that brings in expertise for key industry player, including processors, traders and higher education institutions.
Value chain approach
We are engaged along the value chain from producer to consumer to reduce the risk and impact of contamination at aflatoxin’s multiple entry points. Farmer extension services, gender-sensitive training and marketing systems are designed to promote good agricultural practices, increase productivity, prevent contamination of human food chains and secure more reliable market access. This is combined with engagement and awareness campaigns to change industry practices, inform consumers, and advocate for food safety issues on the global stage.
Public awareness campaigns: working with Malawi Programme for Aflatoxin Control (MAPAC), we develop communication strategies and awareness campaigns and engage the media to help consumers and smallholders make informed decisions.
Pre and post-harvest intervention: partnering with farmer association NASFAM to design gender sensitive on-farm interventions and effective agricultural extension systems improving smallholders’ production and processing practices.
Industry engagement: providing training for processors and other industry stakeholders to improve aflatoxin management practices and the use of technologies (such as moisture meters and mechanical nut shellers) at critical control points. We also disseminate information and share learning through international industry road shows.
Market-led interventions: investigating new product development to create alternative uses for ‘waste’ nuts to eliminate aflatoxin from the human food chain. In partnership with farmer-owned processing facility Afri-Nut, we are developing safe nut-oil products from processed contaminated nuts. The bi-product can also be treated for use as safe animal feed.
Marketing: trading and partnering with Liberation Foods to rebuild Africa’s reputation as a producer of quality, safe nuts.
Global advocacy: advocating for recognition of food safety within the food security and nutrition agendas of national governments and the development community.
Reach: 7,492 farmers trained in good pre and post harvest practices