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Establishment of Pilot Aflatoxin-Sorting Plants for Peanuts In Sub-Saharan African Universities

Obadina A. Olusegun, George O. Abong’, Gerald Moy and Walter E.L. Spiess

A changing world market has triggered the look towards the African continent in search of high quality peanuts. As producing countries worldwide increasingly consume their own production, they have moved from net exporters to importers and the demand for peanuts has risen steadily. Even though exports of peanuts from African countries are limited due to the presence of high levels of aflatoxin, the production of peanuts is still a major crop. In order for the African peanut sector to become a serious player on the international peanut market again, changes are needed to the structure of the sector: improving production practices, building direct linkages between producers and processors, providing producers with incentives to improve their crop, and improving effectiveness of peanut processing (i.e. shelling, grading and cleaning). But most importantly, reducing the levels of aflatoxin contamination is essential for both health and trade.  

Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a report strongly endorsing sorting as a measure that is ready for implementation to reduce aflatoxin contamination in peanuts and improve public health.  The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) has developed a project that aims to introduce the sorting of peanuts in Africa to meet the high standards of markets within and outside Africa. This will be achieved by creating pilot plants operated by Departments of Food Science and Technology at selected universities within the continent (Africa) under contract with IUFoST, which will provide technical and fiduciary oversight. The plants will be built on university property using project funds but eventually these plants will be turned over to the universities. The pilot aflatoxin-sorting plants will be used as part of the undergraduate food science curriculum. Students will gain both knowledge and practical experience in all aspects of the pilot plant (e.g. hygiene, purchasing, processing, quality control, management, marketing, finance / bookkeeping) that will enable them to go out and start similar commercial operations. The different steps involved in the processing line and the equipment that will be needed have been developed.  Currently, identification of a donor for the facility, equipment and startup costs for a pilot plant in Nigeria is being pursued. Initially, we hope to obtain the commitment from the World Food Program, a multinational that produces peanut-containing products in Africa, or the local food industry to purchase a portion of the output of these plants to make them sustainable. In Africa, aflatoxin-free peanuts may not have the immediate appeal of ice cream, but ultimately, we hope we can develop a market strategy to create a demand for aflatoxin-free peanuts that will benefit greatly the health of the African population.

Key words: Aflatoxin reduction, sorting peanuts, pilot plant, Sub-Saharan universities, IUFoST


Dr Obadina A. Olusegun (corresponding author) is with the Department of Food Science and Technology, Federal University of Agriculture, PMB 2240, Abeokuta, Nigeria, e-mail:; Dr George O. Abong’ is with the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology, University of Nairobi, PO Box 29053-00625, Nairobi, Kenya; Dr Gerald Moy is with the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST), 112 Bronte Road, Oakville, Ontario, Canada; and Walter E.L. Spiess is with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Institut fur Bio-und Lebensmitteltechnik, Kaiserstrasse 12, D-76131, Karlsruhe, Germany.



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