New Technology To Detect Mycotoxins In Animal Feed
Farmer's Weekly|November 13, 2020
Prof Cobus Visagie, a mycologist studying fungi at the University of Pretoria’s Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, was recently awarded a prestigious research grant under the Future Leaders’ African Independent Research programme. He explains the impact of mycotoxins on humans and animals.
Prof Cobus Visagie

1: According to Prof Cobus Visagie, more work needs to be done on the health impact of mycotoxins on animals.

My research project at the University of Pretoria’s Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute is titled ‘Ensuring human food and animal feed safety: characterising sources of mycotoxin contamination’. It focuses on identifying which fungi occur on South African crops and animal feed, with the aim of developing new approaches to make their identification more robust, faster and cheaper.

THE STRUGGLE TO FEED THE MILLIONS

World hunger is one of the greatest challenges facing people. One in nine people go to bed hungry and one in three is malnourished. According to pre-COVID-19 statistics, 23% of Africa’s population are undernourished and approximately 45% of child deaths are linked to malnutrition.

In South Africa, even though it is considered one of the most food-secure countries on the continent, 26% of the population suffer from hunger and 28% are at risk of hunger.

According to the UN, the world’s population is expected to reach 9,7 billion by 2050.

Population growth, together with political instability, climate change, pests and diseases (including mycotoxins), limited availability of land, poverty and lack of technology, amongst many other factors, place the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030 at great risk.

Agriculture provides livelihoods for about 40% of the global population. An estimated 500 million small or dryland farms produce approximately 80% of all food. Subsistence farming is common globally and provides significant food security in poor communities. In South Africa, this sector is still small, but is expected to grow in the coming years. Land reform is a major talking point in the country, with government pushing the agriculture sector for job creation and making land available to develop small-scale and subsistence farming.

HEALTH THREAT

Mycotoxins pose a real threat to food production in Africa due to climate change. A mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungus kingdom and causes health complications or death in both humans and animals when consumed above threshold levels.

Although there are hundreds of fungal toxins, only five have agricultural importance, namely aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisin and ochratoxin A. The last two were discovered in South Africa.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FARMER'S WEEKLYView All

SUMMERTIME SALADS

These salads are a celebration of summer, and are perfect to have on their own or as a side. They are also easy to make and super affordable. Bon appétit!

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

North West farmers extend helping hand to hungry communities

Prompted by their own hardship during a decade of drought, farmers in the Schweizer-Reneke area have recognised the urgent need to help unemployed and hungry families in the local communities. Lindi Botha spoke to Jozeph du Plessis about the farmers’ project to distribute maize meal to the needy.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Backgrounding Beef Animals For Higher Profit

Most South African beef producers sell their weaners straight to feedlots for finishing. Chéri-Lynn Steyn, a master’s student in agricultural economics, explains how backgrounding these animals can increase the income of commercial beef farms and even of the feedlots themselves.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Economic Outlook 2021: Now Is The Time To Build Reserves

After a particularly tough year for its economy, South Africa faces many challenges in 2021. Reduced spending power, credit downgrades, and a second wave of COVID-19 could put a damper on agricultural profits this year, and farmers will need to consider their marketing plans carefully. Lindi Botha shares advice from two of the country’s leading economists.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Good Summer Rain Forecast For SA

Weather experts have predicted above-average precipitation for South Africa’s summer rainfall areas in 2020/2021. Meteorologist Johan van den Berg explained the weather cycles and La Niña/El Niño phenomena behind the forecast to Jeandré van der Walt.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Land Reform 2021: Beware Of Fake News

Land reform in South Africa is mired in policy uncertainty and government neglect. At the same time, it is a political football, kicked around shamelessly by some leaders to serve short-term political goals. Glenneis Kriel spoke to three experts in the field to obtain clarity on this crucially important topic.

9 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Managing calf health for maximum long-term productivity

Prevention is better than cure, and this mindset is especially applicable when it comes to preparing calves for their productive adult lives. Dr Schabort Froneman, technical manager for ruminants at Zoetis, provides some pointers on how to raise healthy calves that can become healthy adult animals.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

The stories that got us through a tough year

Farmer’s Weekly editor, Denene Erasmus, looks back at some of the top stories of 2020 that not only inspired her, but also served as an example to all South Africans of the remarkable resilience and determination shown by the farming sector during this most unusual year.

9 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

SA Harvest: fighting hunger and food waste one meal at a time

Small beginnings can lay the foundation of great success. This holds true for SA Harvest, a food rescue and distribution organisation. Ali Conn, regional manager at SA Harvest, spoke to Jeandré van der Walt about the organisation’s journey over the past year and its future plans.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

Diversifying with a new variety pays off for pumpkin producer

The demand for convenient meals and easy-to-prepare vegetables is opening up marketing opportunities for the Hokkaido pumpkin, a newcomer to South Africa. Small, and with an edible peel, the variety holds much promise for expanding cucurbit cultivation. Lindi Botha spoke to Francois Steyn about farming the Hokkaido.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020