Customs agents and traders in cereals have been provided knowledge on aflatoxins, their causes, effects and how to preserve crops safely.
The training which was conducted by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) recently in the northern regions namely Tanga (Horohoro), Kilimanjaro (Holili) and Arusha (Namanga) has enabled customs agents and traders to overcome the challenges of their cargo that rejected by other countries.
The TBS Marketing Officer Rhoda Mayugu said traders and agencies faced some challenges during transporting their goods where they needed to train and ease their daily routine.
“Customs agents and traders of maize and other cereals were facing the challenge of their shipments being denied due to poor quality and as they did not have any laboratory information showing their shipments were tested and met the standards that led to some of the traders going to lose,” said Mayugu .
She said traders and customs agencies should ensure that the maize and cereals they bought were prepared hygienically and the cereals were analyzed by the rotten, smelly and dried ones which even at first glance look weak and then removed.
She said when they see the symptoms they should understand the chances of having aflatoxins are much higher. However, she stressed that they must understand that fungal toxins were not seen with the eyes except laboratory tested.
“If maize or other grains were found to be contaminated with toxins, the harmful effects may affect consumers including health or economic,” said Mayugu.
She said on the health side there were short-term side effects such as stomach aches, jaundice, vomiting and convulsions, while long-term side effects include liver cancer, decreased immunity, stunting in children and even loss of life.
According to Mayugu, traders and Customs Agents were required to take advantage of the technical advice provided by TBS during the export of their goods.
She said through the process TBS will take samples from the consignment ready to be shipped and the sample will be tested in the laboratory and the customer will be given a report of the laboratory response to be used during shipment, the report would enable him to transport the cargo without any trouble.
Mayugu said fungal toxins could be avoided starting from the farming processes in a field where the farmer had to keep his field clean, planting certified seeds, using certified pesticides, harvest on time, analysing and removing weak crops for export.
“We call on traders and customs agencies to ensure that they use the technical advice system during shipment that will reduce or eliminate the challenges they face during shipment,” said Mayugu.