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AU experts, African leaders meeting in Entebbe over aflatoxin mitigation

AU experts, African leaders meeting in Entebbe over aflatoxin mitigation

Over 200 local and international experts from the fields of agriculture, health and trade are meeting for the week in Entebbe to discuss how best to tackle the prevalence of aflatoxins and the related effects.

The meeting was convened by the African Union’s Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) in close collaboration with the Ugandan government as the second Partners Platform Meeting (PPM) at the Imperial Resort Hotel.

Revisiting the origin

According to Prof Archileo Kaaya, the chairperson of the PACA steering Committee in Uganda, defines aflatoxins as toxic (poisonous) substances that are produced by fungi in food.

“When food, especially grain is left in places of moisture above 13% during storage, it develops fungi. It is this fungi that produces the aflatoxins. When people and animals eat this contaminated food, they risk getting cancer and stunting, among other health=related complications,” Kaaya says.

Kaaya says that the urgency to control aflatoxins is due to the fact that millions of people depend on grain food including maize, sorghum and groundnuts.

“Many of us depend on this food. And since we have animals also feeding on the same, they are also susceptible to the same effects,” he cautions.

This was revealed by Kaaya in a pre-meeting event on the PACA Country Planning Models.

The meetings have been officially opened by a panel led by Jessica Eriyo, the Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community joined by Her Excellency Rhoda Peace Tumusiime the African Union Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Economy, Vincent Sempijja Bamulangaki the Ugandan Agriculture Minister, Alioune Sarr the Senegalese Minister for Commerce, Dr Cleopa Mailu the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Health, Amelia Kyambadde the Ugandan Minister for Trade and Dr Janet Edeme the Acting Director for Rural Economy and Agriculture.

Where we stand, why the urgency

It was noted by the AU’s HE Tumusiime that the prevalence of aflatoxins not a challenge for one or two countries, but a problem for Africa as a continent which all countries must address urgently.

“If we are to further achieve the targets of the African Union continental frameworks especially the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the commitments made to contribute to agenda 2063, it is urgent that we fight aflatoxin prevalence,” Tumusiime said.

 

As a representative of an African government Ministry, Sempijja said that the government of Uganda is responding as a signatory to the CAADP commitments and is making necessary steps in the fight.

“In Uganda, we held a national business meeting for stakeholders to discuss a preventive strategy and consult on funding opportunities. We are also working hand in hand with the national steering committee for the mitigation of aflatoxins,” Sempijja said.

He also noted that government integrated the fight against aflatoxins in its five year Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan (ASSP).

A fight for everyone

In her keynote address, Jessica Eriyo, the Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community said that the fight is not only for the agriculture Ministry but for health and trade which she said should work closely in, among other areas, stepping up product inspection and modern storage facilities respectively.

Eriyo added that the education sector also has a role to play.

“We need those in schools to also teach our children about the aflatoxins and the risks they bring. They should empower the children to also challenge their parents on the same and the possible control measures,” Eriyo said.

We stand to lose in the market

Amelia Kyambadde, the Ugandan Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives said that aflatoxins are partly responsible the great loss incurred by Africa in terms of products that are rejected on the international market.

 “We have products rejected due to aflatoxin prevalence and we also have animals that fall below expected quality standards because of the effects of aflatoxins that they consume in the feeds,” Kyambadde said.

Kyambadde called on the public to play their part as government continues to set up storage facilities like silos that she says should address the challenges that arise during storage such as exposure of grain to high moisture.

The meeting continues with a series of sessions until the 13th of October with more delegates and representatives of governments expected to join.

 

This post was syndicated from The most recent articles . Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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