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Aflatoxin mitigation business meeting opens

Nov 10, 2016, 10:55 AM

A daylong workshop dubbed ‘Aflatoxin Mitigation Business Meeting’, on Wednesday opened at a hotel in Kololi.

The forum was organised by Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia in collaboration with Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), a programme under the African Union Commission Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture.

The programme is supporting six pilot countries, including The Gambia, to develop National Aflatoxin Control Action and Investment Plans (NACAIP) and resource mobilisation strategies based on the outcomes of country-led situational analysis and action planning.

The forum on Wednesday brought together participants from diverse backgrounds including development partners in the mobilisation of resources towards the implementation of Gambia’s NACAIP which was validated in June 2016.

Lamin Jobe, on behalf of the permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance, said aflatoxin is a major cause of pre-and post harvest loss in groundnuts, maize and rice.

According to FAO, about 25 per cent world food crops are affected, and without mitigation measures, small producers, mainly women, would continue to be hit the hardest.

“Aflatoxin is real and we must act now if we are to eliminate its negative consequences,” Mr Jobe said.  “The need to mainstream it in our national development blueprints is becoming more obvious.”

He noted that contamination is proving to be a major obstacle in linking African farmers to the world market as aflatoxin prevents commodities from meeting international, regional and local regulations and standard governing agricultural trade and food safety.

Jobe said protecting agricultural commodities could be one of the best and most effective ways of promoting sustainable development.

FAO country representative, Perpetua Katepa Kalala, said the business plan that has been developed for aflatoxin control in The Gambia is part of a framework agreed upon by PACA and tailored by the country specificities.

She noted that aflatoxin poses “a significant threat” to food and economic security, and it undermines poverty eradication in Africa and around the world.

It is a major cause of post-harvest loss that further constraints the amount of food that reaches markets, thus reducing revenues and profits from domestic, regional and international trade.