Maize storage practices and their influence on aflatoxin contamination in maize from selected markets in Moyo District, Northern Uganda
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Aflatoxicosis resulting from consumption of contaminated maize poses significant public health problems including liver cancer, growth retardation and immunosuppression in many countries including Uganda, and many people living in developing countries could be chronically exposed to aflatoxin through their diet. It is caused by Aflatoxins produced by fungus of species Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus flavus found mainly in cereals and other foodstuffs. The predisposing factors of infection include improper drying, high relative humidity and temperature and poor crop storage practices. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine maize storage practices and their association with aflatoxin contamination of stored maize in market in Moyo district, northern Uganda. In this research a cross sectional study design was used where 50 market stores which had maize were randomly sampled and store heads or their representatives (traders) interviewed using questionnaires and observation checklists used to obtain data. In addition, all the traders in the sampled stores had their maize samples collected for moisture content determination using the Standard Oven Method, and for aflatoxin determination using Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC). Data was then entered in MS Windows Excel software for analysis within which it was statistically analysed using chi- square statistical test values. According to the study, majority of the traders stored their maize in woven polypropylene bags than in hermetic bags. Most of the traders placed their maize bags on the bare floor while a few were kept on raised platform. Most of the traders had stored their maize for more than six months. Majority of the traders had not sorted their maize before storage. This study has showed that 60% of the maize samples were aflatoxin contaminated. Results further indicated that type of storage surface had significant association with aflatoxin contamination in maize (P<0.05). Duration of maize in storage also had a significant association with aflatoxin contamination (P< 0.05). Traders store maize using various methods with the main aim being prevention of contamination and spoilage of maize. Some of the maize storage practices were found to be associated with aflatoxin contamination of maize. There is need, therefore, for traders to adopt proper maize storage practices. Policy makers and stakeholders should also encourage traders to adopt and practice proper maize storage practices as this can greatly contribute to reduction of aflatoxin contamination of maize.