The journey to safer food in Tanzania just got a turbo-boost as A to Z takes on local production and distribution of Aflasafe TZ01
A big landmark for Aflasafe TZ01 came in Arusha on 7th May 2019, when an Aflasafe Technology Transfer and Licensing Agreement (TTLA) was signed between A to Z Textile Mills Limited and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Aflasafe TZ01 is an all-natural environmentally friendly product specially tailored for Tanzania using friendly local fungi to kick deadly aflatoxin out of groundnuts and maize. It reliably keeps contamination low, ensuring that these Tanzanian staples are safe to eat.
“This looks like a small ceremony, but it’s a very important step for Africa, taking research results to the fields to change the lives of people,” said Dr Amos Namanga Ngongi, Chair of IITA’s Board of Trustees. “We are very privileged and happy to have this partnership with A to Z.”
A to Z is already moving fast, and we’re delighted to be passing Aflasafe TZ01 on to such a keen and proactive partner. The company is strongly interested in improving food safety and security for Tanzanians. Aflasafe will be joining a fine stable of pedigree agricultural products in its AgroZ® range, including other solutions that help mitigate aflatoxin such as hermetic bags and tarpaulins.
“On behalf of myself and the A to Z family, I’m taking this opportunity to officially welcome our youngest member of the agricultural product range, Aflasafe,” said Mr Kalpesh Shah, A to Z CEO. “The multifaceted negative effects of aflatoxin, ranging from health to loss of trade and reduced agricultural productivity, make this fight against aflatoxin a holy cause. We appreciate the tremendous work that has been put into this product up to now, and we acknowledge the huge task before us of ensuring that manufacturing and distribution are meticulously carried out. A to Z will be investing approximately 1.5 million dollars in Aflasafe, and we expect to have Aflasafe TZ01 on the market by the end of this year – in the hands of Tanzania’s farmers in time for the next sowing season starting in November.”
Aflasafe is not a solution in search of a problem. Quite the opposite, in fact. The starting point in Tanzania, as in many countries across Africa, is grave: studies have suggested that between a quarter and nearly half (25–45%) of Tanzania’s maize is aflatoxin-contaminated. Large quantities of groundnuts too are highly contaminated. A tragic wake-up call came for many in 2016, when 19 people lost their lives to aflatoxin and 68 were hospitalised. The chronic effects of aflatoxin are even more worrying, affecting almost all Tanzanians. Aflatoxin causes liver cancer, weakens disease resistance over the long term and stunts children’s development. Nor does this stealthy stalker and silent killer spare even the littlest ones. More than 99% of Tanzanian infants are exposed to aflatoxin in their first 1,000 days of life.
A safe destination is in sight, however, and this continuing tragedy and loss of life can be prevented. Aflasafe TZ01 offers a reliable, accessible, affordable and highly effective solution. In two years of real-world testing in farmers’ fields, when used alongside good agricultural practices, Aflasafe consistently cut aflatoxin contamination by at least 85%.
As A to Z maps their onward path to market, we can also look back at a long and epic journey. Tanzania’s progress so far towards Aflasafe commercialisation and aflatoxin-safe food owes much to the Government of Tanzania and its determination to stamp down hard on contamination. The government has been with us every step of the way as a steadfast research companion, and later helping pave the path for statutory and regulatory requirements.
“Aflasafe TZ01 was developed in partnership with Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, with funding and technical support from USAID–Tanzania through the United States Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service,” affirmed Dr Namanga Ngongi. “It is a safe, environmentally friendly, scientifically proven product to minimise aflatoxin contamination to ensure aflatoxin-safe food for consumers.”
That scientific march began in Tanzania’s own fields, with a country-wide survey to identify harmless friendly fungi with the potential to keep the toxin-makers out of food. Following an exhaustive and collaborative research, development and testing process, Aflasafe TZ01 was registered by Tanzania’s National Plant Protection Advisory Committee in 2018.
““We at IITA are 100% convinced that A to Z is the best company in the entire universe to produce Aflasafe in Tanzania.”
With that registration putting the final seal and blessing on a successful development process, it’s now time for Aflasafe TZ01 to spread its wings across all of Tanzania’s huge expanse, for which we need the private sector. A to Z’s business expertise and networks are an imperative for industrial production, and distributing and marketing to reach farmers in all corners of the country. IITA will provide technical support to A to Z.
The TTLA is performance-based, with firm annual production and distribution targets. To assure effective and timely product distribution, A to Z must meet these targets as part of the deal to retain their five-year exclusivity.
“We are confident that we will meet the target. In fact, Aflasafe will benefit from A to Z’s extensive distribution network for our agricultural products. Our network comprises more than 200 agro-dealers throughout the country,’’ said Mr Julius Nyabicha, A to Z’s Marketing Manager for agricultural products.
A to Z were chosen from among several companies interested in Aflasafe through a rigorous selection process with much in-depth business planning. “We at IITA are 100% convinced that A to Z is the best company in the entire universe to produce Aflasafe in Tanzania. We are very excited about the future of Aflasafe in Tanzania,” said Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA’s Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery. “I want to really appreciate A to Z for taking this bold step forward, to have faith in this product called Aflasafe.”
Dr Dashiell invited us all to imagine a future in which Tanzania’s staple foods are safe and healthy for its tiniest citizens, with Aflasafe to protect them from aflatoxin. “I want us just to imagine this: all over Tanzania – in fact all over Africa – nutritionists go to mothers and they say, “Look, the best thing for your babies is maize and groundnut porridge. This is highly nutritious.” And it’s true, it’s highly nutritious – but unfortunately, a large percentage of the maize and groundnuts currently produced in Africa has high levels of aflatoxin.”
Aflasafe gives us the opportunity to protect the next generation from aflatoxin and help them to grow up healthy and full of potential. As we hand the baton over to A to Z, we are confident that Aflasafe is in safe hands, and that this milestone marks the beginning of a new era for aflatoxin-safe food in Tanzania.
- For more on the TTLA signing and the development of Aflasafe TZ01, see our press release, in English or Kiswahili
- Media coverage of the TTLA signing:
- Previous news from Tanzania:
- Pre-commercialisation partnerships and training in Tanzania to get Aflasafe TZ01 to thousands of farmers
- Paving the path to commercialisation: Aflasafe TZ01 registered to fight aflatoxin in Tanzania
- Aflasafe taking off in Tanzania: Business opportunities abound at Dar es Salaam Investors Forum
- All systems go for Aflasafe TZ in Tanzania to protect groundnuts and maize from deadly aflatoxin
- Keep up with the latest on Aflasafe in Tanzania