Food safety took a step forward in Mozambique as IITA signed a Technology Transfer and Licensing Agreement (TTLA) with AflaLivre Moçambique S.A. (AflaLivre) to manufacture and distribute Aflasafe in the country. The renewable agreement, signed on 7 May, defines the framework of operations and responsibilities of each party.
IITA’s Aflasafe team is already providing technical assistance with the design of the Aflasafe factory and procurement of the equipment. This Aflasafe manufacturing facility in Nampula, the fifth in sub-Saharan Africa, should be operational by June 2022.
Mozambique has the potential to contribute significantly to food security in Africa. However, only about 15% of its arable land is cultivated, mainly with staple food crops such as maize, cassava, and groundnut. Also, only about 20% of maize and groundnut produced in Mozambique enter markets; the rest is consumed at the household level. Moreover, high aflatoxin levels in these crops undermine their nutritional value and reduce access to lucrative export markets in the event of surplus production.
The country’s huge production potential and aflatoxin challenge led IITA and partners to develop and adapt the aflatoxin biocontrol technology for local use with funding from USAID. After several years, two Aflasafe products—Aflasafe MZMW01 and Aflasafe MZ02—that were developed with atoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus native to Mozambique and tested across the country were registered in February 2019 for commercial use by the Division of Registration and Control of Agrochemicals, in the Department of Plant Health under the National Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Safety. As a result, farmers in Mozambique now have an effective technology to address the aflatoxin menace.
Groundnut growers, who had participated in the effectiveness trials of Aflasafe in Northern Mozambique, showed considerable interest in the product after seeing its tangible benefits in reducing aflatoxin accumulation. Therefore, to meet growing demand, IITA facilitated a short-term manufacturing arrangement for Aflasafe MZ02 at one of the operational licensed factories in the region.
Fifteen tons of the product were manufactured by A to Z Textiles Ltd, in Arusha (Tanzania), transported by road, and distributed by the Associação Moçambicana Para Promoção do Cooperativismo Moderno (AMPCM), a cooperative, facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Society for Development also known as Norges Vel, an international NGO.
Concurrently, discussions began with the groundnut working group to facilitate Aflasafe production in Mozambique and reduce the cost for local farmers, who have to pay more because of the import-related transactional costs, limiting widespread use. AMPCM and Norges Vel teamed up with a private company Miruku Agro Indústria (Miruku), to set up AflaLivre, a private limited liability company registered with the Legal Entities Conservatory of the Republic of Mozambique.
With Norges Vel as the majority shareholder, the core business of AflaLivre is to produce, distribute, and add value to groundnut, maize, cassava, and other agricultural products, process and manage agricultural inputs, including Aflasafe, and other agricultural-related matters.
Unlike other Aflasafe factories, this one will combine Aflasafe manufacturing and aflatoxin-safe groundnut processing in one facility. As a result, Mozambican farmers are now a step closer to having a reliable source of an aflatoxin biocontrol product at a significantly lower price than what it cost to import it from Tanzania.