In the context of soaring food price, groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) is increasing as an important source of food, nutrition and energy as well as sources of income for wealth creation. It is an outstanding dryland legume crop belonging to the family Fabaceae. Some of its traits such as short cropping cycle, and large per area production fills the household food demand and generate income. Groundnuts is mixed with “fafa”, meal of children and is sold locally or exported. It is also sold as source of income for marginalized people such as poor women and children. The leaves and different meals prepared are sources of feed in dry land areas where there is no adequate pastures for grazing.
Increasing in production is needed to satisfy the growing food and feed demands of the developing world, where most parts of the population is food insecured. However, occurrence of grain spoiling fungi and mycotoxins are serious challenges for economy and health of poor people by contaminating grains before or after harvest. Particularly, the problem is very severe in drylands where risk aversion mechanisms are low because of lack of resources and the frequency of crop failure is very high. In the marginal areas, farmers are forced to consume contaminated grains particularly in the time of food deficit.
The prolonged exposures to mycotoxins via diet are linked to cancer of kidney, liver, and other immune-system diseases such as HIV. In Ethiopia, this could be a serious issue, as ”second grade grains” highly infested with fungi and sorted because their proor quality are used for making local drinks such as Tella, Arkie for human consumptions and given directly to livestocks. Mycotoxins in livestock feed reduce productivity in meat and dairy production. In drylands, high temperatures and drought stress increases the incidences of toxigenic fungi and mycotoxin contaminations.
In Ethiopia, poor storage structures enhance fungal and mycotoxin contaminations. Farmers which they grade the grain as the “second grade” is highly infested with fungi and mycotoxins. However,, no one knows the damage caused by these toxins in the products. Where as there are ample evidences that mycotoxin contaminations of grains reduce yield and induce multiple damages on human and animal health.
In many countries, aflatoxin- contaminated groundnuts meal causes aflatoxicosis in children and livestock. In Ethiopia, studies are lacking on groundnuts Due to global warming and climate change drylands are expected to be warmer and more humid making favorable to fungal and their mycotoxins contaminations. This makes difficult for farmers to manage the problems and losses are assumed to be huge.
Thus, occurrence of fungi and their mycotoxins should be identified and monitored. Relations to food safety and health of the rural households need to be documented. Some mitigation mechanisms for marginal areas (drylands) have to be developed and promoted to minimize yield loss and health risks of the rural households. This in turn will contribute to wealth creation, food security and safety.