Government says Malawi can earn substantial foreign exchange if it improves its legume processing to ensure that its groundnuts are marketable on the international market.
This can be done after eliminating a grain-borne poisonous substance called aflotoxin, that has given the country’s produce a low rating for decades.
Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by fungi that is equally harmful for both humans and animals. It proliferates in warm and humid climates, notably on seeds, grains and certain nuts.
Speaking on Tuesday in Lilongwe during the launch of a rapid test kit for the diagnosis of aflotoxin in crops, senior deputy director of agricultural research services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allani Chilimba said Malawi can maximise its exports of groundnuts and other legumes if the crops are free of aflatoxin.
He said: “In the past decade, Malawi has failed to export more legumes because of aflatoxin. It is, therefore, important that the country should be serious in processing its legumes for export.”
He said the rapid test kit, which has been developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) at Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe, will be important to the country’s economy because buyers and farmers can test the crop before they buy or export it.
Icrisat country representative Patrick Okori agreed with Chilimba on the loss of exports and added that aflatoxin poses the biggest threat to people by impairing protein metabolism needed for brain development.
National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) deputy chief executive officer Betty Chinyamunyamu commended Icrisat for coming up with the kit.