Mr. Francisco Sanchez-Bayo from Sydney University demonstrate Aflatoxin Quick test with Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to farmers at Fahilebo

(Tetum)Thanks to new research by SoL and Sydney University, Timorese farmers will soon be selling quality maize grain to a local company, Timor Global, to produce food products. A new Aflatoxin quick test will ensure that only grain that is safe to eat is purchased and turned into food products.

For the last 6 years Timor Global has been importing maize to produce “Timor Vita” at their factory in Railaco. Timor Vita is then distributed throughout the country to children and pregnant women, to assure good nutrition. It is based on corn and soybeans, with additives to make it a fully nutritious meal.

Imported grain came with an assurance that it was free of  dangerous natural poison Aflatoxin, but local grain does not. To ensure that Timor Global can purchase grains from local farmers that are free of Aflatoxin, they needed a rapid and affordable method to test the grains at the point of purchase. This is now possible with the introduction of the new “Aflatoxin Quick test”.

Seeds of Life and Sydney University have demonstrated that the quicktest accurately measures aflatoxin in maize and peanut sampled in Timor Leste. Samples collected throughout Timor over three years were measured using the quick test and the standard HPLC method. This research has shown that about one in 15 samples of corn has more than 20 parts per billion of Aflatoxin, the maximum safe level for consumption.

The Aflatoxin Quick test produces results in 30 minutes and can be conducted in very simple laboratories. It is also as accurate as the longer chemical method that uses HPLC.

The Aflatoxin Quick test is being demonstrated to farmers on a “Quality Grain Roadshow” this week.  The road show was opened by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in Fahilebu on Monday, 27 June 2016.  The launch was held at the seed house of a commercial seed producer group, Naroman. Last year Naroman produced about 20t of quality seed. As seed is selected for large size before sale, they have also produced significant quantities of grain that is not large enough. Groups like this could easily sell grain to Timor Global.

The “Quality Grain Roadshow” is supported by Timor Global, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, MDF, UNDP and Seeds of Life.