Experts from the East African Community (EAC) member states have said limited knowledge and lack of access to appropriate technologies are frustrating aflatoxins prevention and control in the region.
A statement by the EAC headquarters in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha released late Tuesday said the experts observed that the inability of most farmers to easily access appropriate technologies for aflatoxins mitigation and inadequate private sector participation in aflatoxins management were also significant contributing factors to efforts to contain its contamination in the region.
Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as maize, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts, and exposure to aflatoxins is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.
Also singled out as contributing to the aflatoxins menace is insufficient baseline data on aflatoxins to enable mapping of aflatoxins “hot spot” areas in all the EAC member states and porous borders that ease the flow of contaminated grains across the region, said the statement.
It is estimated that agricultural commodities account for about 65 percent of intra-regional trade in the EAC, said the statement, adding that losses associated with aflatoxins contamination in Africa have escalated to 670 million U.S. dollars annually.
Aflatoxins also account for 30 percent of liver cancer cases in Africa, according to the statement.
The EAC member states are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.