July 24, 2017
Iowa State University recently hosted Madjaliwa Nzamwita from Rwanda as part of the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program. Madjaliwa applied to the Borlaug Fellowship as a Food Scientist working at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and currently specializes in post-harvest and nutrition.
RAB was established in 2010, as a result of merging three agriculture agencies; namely the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA), the Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Rwanda Agriculture Research Institute (French acronym: ISAR).
Madjaliwa spent three months at Iowa State University working with Dr. Dirk Maier, Professor of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering.
While at Iowa State University, Madjaliwa researched his areas of expertise in post-harvest, nutrition and food safety, specifically focusing on understanding different methods used for mycotoxin quantification and control measures to reduce mold attacks in cereals and also identify and better understand the main drivers of toxin development in stored food products. Madjaliwa commented that, “Most toxins develop in cereals due to inadequate drying methods, poor storage conditions and lack of awareness with regard to adverse health effects related to mycotoxins contamination.” These toxins can be very harmful to humans and animals when consumed over a long period of time (chronic conditions) resulting in damage to the liver, kidneys and intestines and may even result in death (acute conditions).
Aflatoxin is the deadliest among the mycotoxins and is produced mainly by the Aspergillus flavus species. Aflatoxin, much like several other mycotoxins are produced by different molds species that might not always be noticeable to the naked eye (they can be visible at advanced stages), but that does not imply that these toxins are not present in foodstuffs. Analytical techniques such as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry can help to detect the presence of these toxins and quantify them with high degree of accuracy. Aflatoxin is currently an issue in developing countries as it negatively affects trade since grains must comply with regional and international standards.
When returning to Rwanda, Madjaliwa would like to take back what he has learned through his research at Iowa State to help reduce mycotoxin contamination in developing countries as well as share some new grain drying techniques to ensure that as much moisture is removed prior to storage, as well as other post-harvest grain management practices.
While at Iowa State, Madjaliwa, wrote a proposal with Dr. Maier to hopefully, with funding, organize training of partners in the East African Community countries (Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya) to educate them on consistent application of the EAC standard to facilitate trade of corn and pulses in the region. Madjaliwa mentioned, “I am honored to be given the opportunity to research at Iowa State University and take back my experience and studies to Rwanda to improve nutrition and post-harvest loss reduction in my home country.”
Prior to his departure, Madjaliwa attended the 2017 American Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Conference in Spokane, Washington, USA, where he met with individuals from around the world whose endeavors were to find sustainable solutions for an ever-growing population in terms of food security. At the conference, Madjaliwa was most looking forward to meeting other individuals from around the world that were interested in the same areas of study and research. He was able to meet and have a short conversation on finding peace through agriculture with the President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn.
Click here to learn more about Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences partnership with the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program.