Standards Bureau in collaboration with
Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa [PACA] and Consumer Protection
Association-The Gambia [CPAG] have recently conducted a day seminar for the
members of the Consumer Association and Journalists on Codex and
Standardization on Aflatoxin at Fajara.
Aflatoxins are highly toxic metabolites that affect the safety of food and feed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including The Gambia. Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus fungi that reside in soil, which are important in health and agriculture especially in groundnut and maize, mainly produce them.
Gambian regions prone to the menace are the North Bank, Central River-South and Upper River–South regions, according to samples recorded by PACA 100% of the positive samples are contained with aflatoxin B. According to Value Per Statistical [VSL], the annual economic impact of 160 liver cancer cases was estimated to be as high as US$ 22.5 million.
Matarr John of the Consumer Protection Association-The Gambia commended the Standards Bureau for bringing together stakeholders to collaborate and promote the rights of consumers in the country and to create awareness.
He said CPAG secured funding equivalent to 500,000 dalasis in May to implement a project called Education and Awareness on the prevalence of dangers of aflatoxin with the objective to conduct training, focused group discussions on aflatoxin in sensitive foods in the country, awareness raising seminar with both The University of The Gambia and National Agricultural Research Institute and a dialogue session with stakeholders on the Aflatoxin issues.
Papa Secka, Director of Standards Bureau highlighted the numerous contributions made by CPAG in putting place key structures and laws towards the attainment of quality food standards, among them their contribution in the construction of the Standards Bureau, ensuring that there is consumer Act in the country as well as a quality policy after its numerous advocacy programs.
He said the effort is to manifest the significant roles of the consumers and their roles in complementing standards development, and the promotion of an overall quality assurance in The Gambia.
PACA Country Officer Madam Ndey Naffie Ceesay said PACA is an AUC flagship project that is currently running in 6 countries, with basically with the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture and Health with a view to mitigating the cross cutting issues regarding Aflatoxin.
She said aflatoxin is the menace that degrades the quality of crop, affects trade and health adding that it causes liver cancer, malnutrition, and stunted growth among others.