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Makoni, Zimbabwe — For years, Selina Moyo did not waste maize grain that went mouldy. While her family may not have eaten it, she would throw it to the chickens or allow cattle to nibble on it. Not anymore.
Farmers in Zimbabwe and across Africa routinely lose their crop to pests. In addition, poor drying and storage attracts a more serious health risk: aflatoxin contamination. These are naturally occurring poisons produced by certain species of fungi which infect crops in the field, before or after harvest and during storage.
Exposure to aflatoxins has been linked to stunting of childhood growth, liver cancer, and immune suppression in adults, yet there is a general lack of awareness in farming communities across Africa about this threat to health, food security and trade.
Hermetic storage in the form of thick, plastic "super-bags" and the metal silos have proven effective against pests and in reducing aflatoxin contamination, a new study by researchers in Zimbabwe has found.
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