KENYA – The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has announced its heightened efforts in conducting aflatoxin tests on maize shipments from Tanzania

The decision comes in response to concerns arising from delays in the clearance of maize consignments at the border, which has led to trucks overstaying and increased the risk of aflatoxin contamination.

Aflatoxin, a toxic substance produced by a fungus commonly found in maize and other agricultural products like peanuts, poses severe health risks to humans, including vomiting, abdominal pain, and liver injuries, among others.

Addressing the issue, KEBS issued a statement, acknowledging reports of trucks carrying maize waiting for authorization permits to transport their consignments across the Kenyan border for an extended period.

To mitigate the potential risk of aflatoxin contamination, KEBS has implemented stricter measures, including comprehensive screening of all imported maize to ensure its safety.

Deploying an adequate number of personnel and testing kits, KEBS aims to conduct thorough examinations.

However, due to the scientific nature of the testing procedure, it is expected that each consignment will take approximately two hours to obtain results upon the receipt of import documentation and sampling.

Delayed release of Ugandan maize at South Sudan border

In other news, the South Sudanese government has finally released a consignment of Ugandan maize and trucks that had been detained at the border for a month over aflatoxin concerns.

Mr. Henry Okello Oryem, the Ugandan State Minister for Foreign Affairs, confirmed the development.

Following engagements between the Ugandan embassy and South Sudanese authorities, the maize and trucks were allowed to return to Uganda.

However, concerns were raised over the circumstances surrounding the detention, as the Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS) maintains higher standards than its South Sudanese counterpart, the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards (SSNBS).

On May 15, the SSNBS impounded 62 trucks loaded with maize grains, maize flour, and wheat, citing alleged failure to pass aflatoxin contamination tests. Ugandan traders and officials expressed their objection to the move.

Concerns and implications of delayed release

The prolonged detention of the Ugandan maize and trucks at the South Sudanese border has caused significant concerns among traders and agricultural stakeholders.

Beyond disrupting trade activities, it has raised questions about the efficiency of border management and customs procedures.

These delays have far-reaching effects, particularly impacting small-scale traders who heavily rely on cross-border trade for their livelihoods.

Financial losses, spoiled perishable goods, and disruptions to supply chains are just some of the consequences experienced. Moreover, such incidents undermine trader and investor confidence, hindering economic growth and regional integration efforts.

Efforts must be made to streamline border processes, enhance collaboration between standards organizations, and ensure efficient clearance procedures to mitigate similar challenges in the future, reports BNN.

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