Matieyedou Konlambigue, Njeri Okono, Amadou Lamine Senghor, Alejandro Ortega-Beltran, and Ranajit Bandyopadhyay

The Gambia faces severe difficulties in meeting export-quality requirements for food-grade groundnuts. For many years, The Gambia’s groundnuts have been banned in Europe—its primary export market.

Groundnut exports with aflatoxin levels exceeding European Union (EU) limits—4 parts per billion (ppb) for confectionery and 20 ppb for feed raw materials—were rejected and summarily returned or destroyed, with the exporter bearing the costs, further compounding losses. The total aflatoxin-related overall loss in monetary terms is estimated at US$7.9–29.9 million.

Aflatoxin infection greatly handicaps The Gambia’s food and economic security and undermines poverty eradication efforts.

Between 2014 and 2015, IITA and Senegal’s Plant Protection Department (Direction de la Protection des Végétaux [DPV]) collaborated with the National Agricultural Research Institute, The Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC, now the National Food Processing, Security and Marketing Corporation [NFSPMC[), and the US Department of Agriculture to conduct effectiveness trials of Aflasafe SN01—the aflatoxin biocontrol product developed for Senegal and The Gambia. The results showed that Aflasafe SN01 reduced aflatoxin contamination by more than 90%, with 86% of the samples from Aflasafe-treated fields having less than 4 ppb compared to 61% in the untreated fields. These results paved the way for registering the product with the country’s regulatory authorities (CSP/CILSS1) in 2016 and subsequent commercialization.

Following the registration, IITA’s Aflasafe Technology Transfer and Commercialization (ATTC) project facilitated the dissemination of the technology. ATTC vigorously engaged with private-sector actors, leading to the selection of BAMTAARE Services as the licensed partner to undertake production, marketing, and distribution of Aflasafe SN01 on a commercial basis. IITA granted a fiveyear exclusive license to BAMTAARE to manufacture and distribute Aflasafe SN01 in both Senegal and The Gambia.

With support from the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, NFSPMC introduced Aflasafe SN01 in the input package and extension system as part of a program to improve the quality of grain supplied by

farmers2. Between 2016 and 2020, 236 tons of Aflasafe SN01 were procured and applied on 23,600 ha of groundnut in the country ATTC, working with the African Union’s Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), BAMTAARE, NFSPMC, and the Ministry of Agriculture, enhanced project knowledge through sensitization campaigns and training on aflatoxin and its management and how to use Aflasafe SN01. ATTC supported the production of communication tools for these events. NFSPMC also introduced an incentive system, which rewards farmer groups that meet the EU standard with a 15% bonus of the regular price.

Results in 2018 and 2019 after consecutive Aflasafe SN01 applications showed total aflatoxin at 4 ppb and less, well below the EU standard for human consumption. These results have enabled NFSPMC to regain export sectors in foreign markets that it had lost due to unsafe aflatoxin levels. For instance, independent external testing at the entry point to export markets in 2019/2020 showed aflatoxin at 1.8–2 ppb for Aflasafe-protected groundnuts. After more than 20 years of being locked out by aflatoxin, The Gambia is back in the highly lucrative United Kingdom market for groundnut.

With these successful results, NFSPMC plans to scale up nationally by expanding Aflasafe SN01 to all groundnut fields. The dual objective is to increase exports to Europe and assure public health for Gambians.

To sustain and extend these gains, IITA is working with the government to complement and expand NFSPMC’s effort in using Aflasafe SN01 and good agricultural practices, among other important solutions for taming aflatoxin. Other concrete steps with the government include continued public awareness of aflatoxin and developing and enforcing a national

1  Comité Sahélien des Pesticides (CSP) of the Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte Contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS)

2  Ramsay, D. 2019. Private sector development and international trade in The Gambia. Rural 21, International Journal for Rural Development.