EAST AFRICA – Disputes and trade losses linked to aflatoxin contamination could soon be addressed through the adoption of a standardized and expedited testing method for toxins in grains and cereals across East African Community (EAC) partner states.
Experts are proposing the use of “AgraQuant Elisa Mycotoxin Test Kits” at border points to streamline the process and reduce trade disputes.
The adoption of a uniform testing method is expected to mitigate trade disputes, such as the one in 2022 when high levels of mycotoxins in maize triggered a trade war between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
A significant reduction in trade disputes is anticipated with the implementation of these test kits, fostering smoother cross-border trade within the EAC, reports The East African.
The economic impact of aflatoxin contamination is substantial, with Uganda and Tanzania estimated to lose approximately US$ 16 million and US$ 5.3 million, respectively, due to reduced agricultural exports resulting from aflatoxin contamination.
These losses contribute to an overall suppression of intra-regional trade in grains, affecting the economic well-being of EAC partner states.
A standardized testing approach at border points using AgraQuant Elisa Mycotoxin Test Kits could contribute to trade gains by minimizing grain rejections.
Currently, there are high levels of rejection by off-takers in the region, with Kenyan millers, for instance, rejecting an average of 19 percent of maize deliveries in 2015.
Addressing aflatoxin contamination could significantly reduce such rejections, fostering a more robust and reliable intra-regional trade system.
Agricultural commodities represent a substantial portion of intra-regional trade in the EAC, accounting for approximately 65 percent of such trade.
By addressing aflatoxin issues, the EAC aims to enhance the value and reliability of its agricultural exports, contributing to a more resilient and sustainable regional trade ecosystem.
Workshop on aflatoxin prevention and control
The Strategic Engagement Workshop on Aflatoxin Prevention and Control held in Kampala brought together experts and stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, and the DRC.
During the workshop, the low adoption of technologies like Aflasafe for aflatoxin prevention and control was highlighted, and the use of AgraQuant Mycotoxin Test Kits was proposed as a viable solution.
The contamination of crops by aflatoxin not only affects trade but also has broader implications for food security.
Aflatoxin reduces the available food supply by a significant margin, creating a food security gap. Addressing aflatoxin issues is crucial for ensuring a healthier and more abundant food supply for the population.
The EAC Council of Ministers has prioritized aflatoxin prevention and control due to its potential threat to EAC integration goals. A follow-up stakeholder workshop in Nairobi is planned for mid-November 2023 to further deliberate on policy recommendations for aflatoxin control in the region.