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3rd PACA Partnership Platform calls for enhanced country-led approaches for sustainable aflatoxin mitigation in Africa

Dates: 
October 03, 2018

3rd PACA Partnership Platform calls for enhanced country-led approaches for sustainable aflatoxin mitigation in Africa

October 3, 2018; Dakar, Senegal – African Union Commission Chairperson, H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat urged all AU Member States to tackle the impact of Aflatoxins through a strong continental vision supported by robust political will, as well as the establishment of the necessary technical structures and the promotion of coordinated approaches.

Speaking during the opening of the 3rd Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) Partnership Platform Meeting (PACA PPM) themed ‘Scaling-out Country-led Approaches for Sustainable Aflatoxin Mitigation in Africa,’ yesterday, Chairperson Faki emphasized the need for collective action to address the major health risks posed by Aflatoxins in Africa which also impact negatively on the agricultural and trade sectors of the continent.

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring toxins in crops such as maize, sorghum and groundnuts which represent the major staple foods in many African countries. At high levels, aflatoxin poisoning can cause death, illness and the destruction of contaminated crops, which in turn negatively impacts food security in general and the agricultural sector in particular.

Chairperson Faki stressed the importance the AU places on agriculture, food security and safety, as evidenced by the adoption of the 2003 Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the 2014 Malabo Declaration on agriculture.
He noted that the fulfilment of the commitments made in the Malabo Declaration require sustained action to ensure food safety on the Continent.

Chairperson Faki stressed the need for heightened awareness and sensitization campaigns about the dangers of Aflatoxins and how to build resilience through innovative coping strategies.

Officially opening the PACA PPM, the Prime Minister of Senegal, H.E Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, reiterated the country’s commitment to mitigating aflatoxins and stressed the importance of using different measures including bio-controls such as Aflasafe, a natural biological product that reduces aflatoxin contamination at pre-harvest stage.

Senegal is one of the six pilot countries that the AUC’s PACA Secretariat is working with in Africa. H.E Dionne restated Senegal’s commitment to working with the AUC and also with its famers and producers to fight the aflatoxin scourge.

Also speaking at the opening ceremony, AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, H.E Amb. Josefa Sacko assured the meeting of AUC's commitment to replicate the PACA Country-led approach in the six pilot countries in mitigating aflatoxins to the rest of the continent.

“The Commission has been supporting the pilot countries in developing and implementing a country-led aflatoxin control action plan to address the aflatoxin problem in a coordinated and impactful manner,” she said. “The results have so far been remarkable and we would like to replicate the experience in all the 55 countries of Africa.”

Meanwhile, PACA in collaboration with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), launched the Africa Food Safety Index, a project that will institutionalize food safety tracking and capacity building in Africa through the Malabo Declaration Biennial Review reporting system. CTA Director, Dr. Michael Hailu announced the collaboration, noting that food safety is one of the pillars of food security.

The 3rd PACA PPM’s official opening ceremony was also graced by Ministers and senior government officials from AU Member States; farmers; civil society; development partners and the media.

The 3rd PPM is specifically looking at the successes and challenges in the implementation of aflatoxins control efforts in the six PACA pilot countries namely; Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, The Gambia and Uganda, and identify best practices for implementation in the rest of Africa.

Other major highlights at the 3rd PPM include the following:
• Market Place exhibitions; and
• A dinner and awards ceremony to recognize and award Champions of Change; which, in collaboration with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Sight and Life and Mars Incorporated, includes an award of $15,000 seed fund each for two researchers in Africa.

Aflatoxins

Aflatoxins are natural compounds produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus and related species. They are highly toxic to humans and animals, causing liver disease and cancer. Chronic exposure to aflatoxins is also associated with stunting and immune system suppression. Aflatoxins affect grain and other food crops – notably, maize and groundnuts. The toxins can be carried over along the food chain and contaminate animal source foods. Humans and animals get exposed to aflatoxins through ingestion of foods/feeds contaminated by the toxins.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 25% of the food produced worldwide is contaminated with aflatoxins, which is a threat to global food safety as well as food security, as contaminated commodities are expected to be destroyed.
It is also estimated that Africa cumulatively loses more than US$ 670 million annually in lost exports because major agricultural commodities such as maize, groundnuts and spices produced in the continent contain aflatoxin levels that are unacceptable for the European and other global markets.

Effective aflatoxin management is critical for achievement of the Malabo Declaration Commitments on eradicating hunger, tripling intra-Africa trade in agricultural commodities and services as well as reducing poverty, and contributing to the realization of Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

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For more information please contact:

Dr. Amare Ayalew
Program Manager,
Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa
Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture
Amarea@africa-union.org

Media contact:
Ms. Carol Jilombo
CAADP Communications
Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture
JilomboC@africa-union.org