“Aflatoxin” Thinking thunderous ………about the distributed Rotten maize in Dowa
“Aflatoxin” Thinking thunderous
………about the distributed Rotten maize in Dowa
By Chapatali Ndau
There are growing calls on government to account for its actions through the Department of Disaster Management (Dodma) on the alleged rotten maize that was distributed to hunger stricken Malawians at Nachisaka Extension Planning Area in Dowa district which may have the potential to have exposed lives of innocent Malawians to aflatoxin, which has many health risks including cancer and child disorders during birth.
It is so shocking that the Department of Disaster Management distributed rotten maize to citizens in Dowa District.
Yes Dodma has done great work in responding to calamities but citizens deserves better and quality relief.
It is imperative that the government accounts for this action because there is a potential danger of possibility that people who may use this maize may be exposed to aflatoxin.
There is high likelihood that someone was sleeping on job if it was not sheer plan to feed people with rotten maize to defraud the government.
It is proper and important that someone must be held accountable of this action.
We need answers to know the source of this maize. Is it maize from the rotten 7000 metric tons of ADMARC or is it from the scrupulous traders? We need answers.
What is clearer now is that the Department of Disaster Management has acted irresponsibly in Dowa and this has to be put to a stop.
In February 2018, World Health Organization (WHO) noted that mouldy foods are potentially contaminated with aflatoxins and possibly harm when consumed. WHO went on advising to discard any grain that may look mouldy, discolored, or shriveled. World Health Organization further advice that grain must not be kept for extended period time before use.
Aflatoxin pose a serious health risk to both humans and live stock. Aflatoxin is the poisonous substances which contaminate food crops and pose a serious health threat to human and live stock.
Aflatoxin may affect all body organs especially liver and kidney, causes liver cancer and is linked to other types of cancer.
Further it has the potential to cause birth defects in children and may cause resistance to infectious agents.
Iowa State University, Extension and Outreach department for Integrated Crop Management, says aflatoxin accumulation is usually associated with poor storage conditions.
This brings a question as to what conditions are our grain storage facilities exposed to? How regularly do the NFRA or ADMARC inspect the grains in its storage facilities?
Dr. Allison Robert, Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Iowa State University which is on number 172 on the 2019 World University ranking, says that although the presence of Asperrgillus moulds does not necessarily indicate aflatoxin contamination, there is certainly increased risk of contamination.
Agreeing with Dr Robert observations it would be just for the authorities including the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) to take a proactive role to test aflatoxin levels in the distributed maize in Dowa for planning purposes.
In September 2019 media house were awash with stories that over 7000 metric tons of maize rot under the nose of ADMARC.
The maize was bought in 2017 and was being kept by NFRA. The ADMARC is said to have sold the rotten maize to traders who sold the same maize on the local market to people.
Welani Chilenga the then Chair person of Agriculture and Natural Resources Parliamentary Committee cautioned ADMARC to deists from selling the maize because it was unfit for human consumption.
During Dr. Joyce Banda administration 30,000 metric tons of maize got rotten in national strategic silos and were sold to on public market through and open tender system.