Last summer, Jock Brandis and Randy Shackelford traveled to Zambia with the NCBA-CLUSA Farmer to Farmer project. While there, they created a makeshift lab on the bed of a truck and used a device called an mReader to test Zambian peanuts for aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a dangerous byproduct of fungi that grows on improperly stored commodities in humid climates. In adults, exposure to aflatoxin causes liver cancer and suppression of the immune system. In children, the effects are much more detrimental causing stunted growth, mental impairment, and poisoning. In fact, globally, aflatoxin is responsible for up to 35% of stunted growth in children.
Brandis realized the importance of the mReader and kindly donated the device to the Msekera Research Station in Eastern Zambia at the end of his travels. Since then, scientists have been able to expand testing efforts to the capital in Lusaka and westward. This is allowing the locals to consume safer crops and sell their goods on the global market.