Aflatoxins remain a great threat to the health of livestock as well as humans in Tanzania by their continuing intermittent occurrence in both livestock feeds and human foods.
It is believed that, Mycotoxins are low molecular weight secondary metabolites produced by certain strains of filamentous fungi which invade crops in the field and may grow on foods during storage under favourable condition of temperature and humidity, whereby, aflatoxins are chemical substances produced by fungi.
According to Dr Eligy Shirima, the director general (DG) for TALIRI, they are now starting a campaign to combat the level of aflatoxin in animal feeds, feed ingredients and animal products like chicken eggs and milk from dairy cows.
"This mitigation strategy is very vital as records depict that contamination of feeds by mycotoxins accounts for significant economic losses in animal husbandry in Tanzania, as well as undesirable trade barriers for raw materials and consumable products," he unveiled.
Furthermore, he added in 2016 it was reported that the annual potential economic losses in Tanzania due to consequences of aflatoxins was up to USD 332million.
Dr Shirima noted that, despite of such huge economic losses in the country, data on aflatoxin contamination in animal feeds, feed ingredient and animal products such as milk are scarce in relation to its effects on production and productivity animals such as dairy cows and their calves.
"Due to the seriousness of this matter, our campaign will dwell also in creating awareness among the public by giving -out key knowledge over aflatoxin issues, including good agricultural practices and good manufacturing practices," he said.
He said as part of the crucial campaign, knowledge will also be disseminated to relevant potential groups, including farmers, input suppliers, millers, feed and food processors and warehouses food andfeed storages, transporters and business persons involving in feed industry.
"The national wide campaign targets also to lay out standards for animal feeds and animal production," he expressed.
On the other side, a livestock expert at TALIRI Tanga, Valentine Urassa, said dairy and beef cattle are more susceptible to aflatoxicosis than sheep and that young animals are more susceptible to the effect of aflatoxins than mature animals.
It is also argued that, animals are variably susceptible to aflatoxins, depending on such factors as age, species, breed, sex, nutrition, and certain stresses, whereby swine, cattle, and poultry are the domestic species of greatest economic concern in terms of aflatoxicosis.
Urassa also said that, in all species, the evidence of disease is a general thriftiness and reduction in weight gains, feed efficiency, immunity, and production.
In cattle, however, milk production is mostly affected, but of greater significance is that the aflatoxins in feeds can be rather efficiently converted to toxic metabolites in milk, with even small amounts being readily detectable.
On the other hand, the poultry industry probably suffers greater economic loss than any of the livestock industries because of the greater susceptibility of their species to aflatoxins than other species.