Aflatoxin Prevention and Control
Aflatoxin contamination is one of the formidable SPS challenges posing a threat to human and animal health and trade in the region.
Defined as family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as maize and ground nuts. Aflatoxin-producing fungi can contaminate crops in the field, at harvest, and during storage.
Aflatoxin exposure in the EAC is reflected in the frequent outbreaks of acute aflatoxicosis, especially in Kenya where in 2004, case fatality rate was 123 out of 341 reported cases in Eastern Region. In July, 2016, at least 14 deaths in the United Republic of Tanzania (Dodoma and Manyara regions) were linked to Aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxin contaminated food is also associated with adverse human and animal health impacts including immunosuppression, stunting among infants and young children, and liver cancer in both humans and animals.
Impacts on trade are enormous translating to significant financial losses for the agriculture sector. According to Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), Africa loses an estimated US$670 million in rejected export trade annually due to contamination by aflatoxin. Consequently, this has undermined the livelihoods and well-being of millions of households who depend on agriculture.
In line with the Council of Ministers directives, EAC is implementing a multi-sectoral Aflatoxin prevention and control project funded by USAID Kenya and East Africa and technically supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) since inception. The project is aimed at mitigating adverse effects of aflatoxin along the food and feed value chains.
- A robust Aflatoxin prevention and control strategy was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2018.
- A total of 11 evidence -based Technical Papers and 9 policy briefs have been developed and disseminated through strategic forums. They contain recommendations on interventions required to mitigate the multi-sectoral impacts and effects of aflatoxin. Policy briefs accessible here.
- In 2017, the EAC Secretariat organized a benchmarking visit to IITA headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria to enable Partner States gain practical experience on the contribution of Aflasafe technology in the control of aflatoxin and the associated health, economic and farm-level benefits. Aflasafe is a natural, safe and cost-effective biocontrol product developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) able to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts from 80 to 99 percent, enabling farmers to earn approximately 15% more income. Under public-private partnerships modalities for the manufacturing and distribution of the technology have been put in place in Kenya and Tanzania. There are efforts by IITA to introduce the technology in other EAC Partner States.
- A comprehensive training course on Aflatoxin Prevention and Control Project for EAC Partner States experts was held in 2017.
- In February and March, 2020, the EAC Secretariat convened national stock-taking workshops which revealed that remarkable progress had been made by Partner States in mainstreaming aflatoxin prevention and control interventions in their national planning and budgeting instruments in accordance with the Council of Ministers Directives. EAC Partner States have allocated funding for aflatoxin mitigation and invested in capacity building, research and development, manufacturing and distribution of technologies for aflatoxin prevention and control and stepped up communication and awareness efforts.