Document Type : Original Article
Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi, P.O Box 29053-00265, Nairobi, Kenya
ICRISAT-Lilongwe, Chitedze Agricultural Research Station P.O Box 1096 Lilongwe, Malawi
The increased cases of aflatoxin contamination are exacerbated by poor post-harvest management practices, coupled with adverse climatic conditions at harvest and post-harvest stages. This study therefore was carried out to improve safety and quality of groundnuts from aflatoxin contamination, through use of proper postharvest handling practices. Specifically the study determined the effects of harvesting dates and drying methods on aflatoxin contamination. Field experiments were carried out both at Chitedze and Chitala Agricultural Research Stations in Malawi during 2017/2018 growing season. A randomized complete block design in a split plot arrangement with three harvesting dates as the main plot and four drying methods as the sub-plots replicated three times was used. Groundnut was assessed for kernel infection by Aspergillus flavus, and level of aflatoxin contamination. Significantly low levels of about 0.5µg/ Kg of A. flavus infection and aflatoxin contamination were observed at 90 days after sowing (DAS). Higher aflatoxin contamination of up to 5µg/ Kg was observed at 80 DAS, and 10 days late after physiological maturity (100 DAS). This study also identified Mandela cock, a-frame drying rack as effective drying method that can reduce aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts by 75 %. Moreover, Mandela cock drying method was shown as the most effective compared to A-frame and drying rack drying method. Current study therefore recommends for adoption of timely harvesting at physiological maturity, and drying using either Mandela cock or A-frame and drying rack. Further studies need to be carried on biological control of aflatoxin contamination.