By Jimoh Babatunde, Dakar, Senegal
Africa is said to lose about $700 million to Aflatoxin , which commonly contaminate a wide range of stable food and cash crop in the continent.
This was disclosed at the opening of the 3rd Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) partnership platform meeting , in Dakar, Senegal, today, by the chairperson, African Union Commission, Mousa Faki.
He said the lose comes as a result of the inability of most crops from the continent affected by aflatoxin to meet international standards.
Aflatoxins are known to cause liver and other chronic health effects as well as death.
He noted that aflatoxins have proved to be a major barrier in linking African farmers to markets, as they prevent commodities from meeting international , regional and local regulations and standards governing agricultural trade and food safety.
” Aflatoxins continue to contribute to large post harvest losses in many crops further contributing to food insecurity and economy loss in Africa.”
Also speaking at the opening, the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union, Ambassador Josefa Sacko, said transformation of agriculture in the continent is slow as efforts at increasing food are being undermined by food contamination.
Adding that Aflatoxin is a major pervasive food safety challenge facing the Africa continent today.
Sacko noted that the health effect of aflatoxin was felt in Kenya in 2004 and Tanzania in 2017.
“The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) , program of the African Union Commission , coordinates efforts at continental and national level in aflatoxin prevention and control.”
She noted that piloting of aflatoxin mitigation approach in Nigeria and five other focus countries has generated a rich experience in evidence generation, national plan development and stakeholder alignment as well as financing and implementation of comprehensive aflatoxin control plans.
“The PACA country planning approach is believed to bring about positive changes in aflatoxin control at country level and drive continental efforts on food safety.”
She noted that the hosting of the 3rd PACA partnership platform meeting by Senegal is coming at a critical period when the continent and international community are advocating for increased food safety measures to protect human lives and increase intra-Africa and international trade of agricultural commodities.
The 3rd PACA partnership platform meeting which will end on Thursday has as its theme “Scaling out country led approaches for sustainable aflatoxin mitigation in Africa”.
The meeting will be looking at the success and challenges of the country planning process in the six pilot countries and identify feasible ways to scale up this approach to other African countries and monitor progress.