East African Community (EAC) and IITA launches 9 policy briefs on aflatoxin prevention and control
Nine set of policy briefs outlining key strategic policy recommendations and actions to prevent and control aflatoxin contamination along food and feed value chains in East Africa and its associated threat to human and livestock health, trade, and food security in the region, were officially launched at a two-day regional forum in Nairobi, Kenya, 15–16 August.
The event was organized by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and USAID East Africa regional Office. It was attended by members of the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) Committee on Agriculture and delegates from the five EAC partner countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and other development partners.
The policy briefs, produced by the EAC, contain key findings and recommendations of 11 multisectoral technical papers developed under the EAC Aflatoxin Prevention and Control Project (APPEAR) funded by USAID East Africa Regional Economic Integration Office and led by IITA.
The key objective of the project was to develop an EAC evidence-based aflatoxin implementation strategy and action plan for aflatoxin control and prevention along the health, agriculture, livestock, trade, industry and environmental sectors.
The policy briefs were launched by the Principal Secretary, State Department of Agriculture Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Prof Hamadi Boga, who represented his Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri.
Prof. Boga applauded the EAC Secretariat for the initiative, noting that Africa loses up to US$ 670 million annually from lost exports due to aflatoxin contamination.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, noted that aflatoxin prevention and control is one of the flagship programs implemented by the EAC Secretariat.
“The overall goal of the program is to contribute to food and nutrition security as well as to protect human, animal and plant health in EAC from the adverse impacts of aflatoxin along the food and feed value chains,” Hon. Bazivamo said at the forum.
On his part, Dr Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Hub, who led the IITA delegation at the forum, also lauded the EAC Secretariat for its sustained efforts to improve knowledge and awareness of aflatoxins and mitigation and scaling of available technologies against the killer aflatoxin. He further pledged that IITA will continue working with the EAC Secretariat to silence the silent killer, aflatoxin.
Manyong further noted the importance of a conducive policy environment in addressing the aflatoxin challenge.
“Developing knowledge and mitigation technology is only one thing. Getting the technology to be massively adopted by beneficiaries is an equally important challenge which calls for a proper conducive policy environment.
“In this area, IITA collaborated strategically with the EAC Secretary with financial support from USAID Kenya and the East Africa mission to develop 11 technical papers to inform the development of aflatoxin policies in the EAC region.”
Other speakers from IITA included Charity Mutegi, Kenya Country Coordinator – Aflasafe Project and George Mahuku, Senior Plant Pathologist for Easthern, Southern and Central Africa, who presented papers on Effectively communicating about aflatoxins and Preharvest losses associated with aflatoxin and mitigation, respectively. Manyong also presented a paper on the impact of aflatoxin on trade.
The nine policy briefs comprehensively look at all aspects of aflatoxin prevention and control. These include aflatoxin’s harmful impacts on human health including on children under 1000 days, on animal health, on trade, harmonization of standards and regulations for food and feed, the use of biocontrol for aflatoxin prevention and control, disposal of contaminated food and feed, and a communication strategy.
At the end of the event, a Regional Forum was established to create awareness and sensitize high-level policymakers and other key stakeholders on the necessary policy action and interventions to address impacts and effects of aflatoxin.