KENYA – The Canadian Government, through TradeMark Africa (TMA), has provided Kenya with aflatoxin decontamination plant, aimed to enhance food security by creating the capability to significantly reduce aflatoxin contamination in grains.
The plants, first of their kind in commercial use in Africa were delivered to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots in Bungoma and Nairobi.
Aflatoxins are recognized by the World Health Organization as highly toxic substances affecting grains, pose health risks to animals and humans, including cancer. Most countries implement strict regulations and monitoring to control their levels in food and feed products.
Canada contributed CA$ 1.6million (US$ 1.2M) (about KES 190 million) for the purchase and installation of these decontamination units, which will improve the safety and increase the trade of grain in Kenya and broader East Africa region.
The two large-scale decontaminators, according to experts, can eliminate up to 98% of aflatoxins in various food commodities, including grains, pulses, nuts.
This development is a game-changer for the region, where maize is a primary food source for an estimated 300 million people.
Western Kenya was deemed a strategic location to set them up, as the country’s grain basket, and because it plays a crucial role in regional grain trade, with significant inflows from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania, where over 600,000 metric tons of maize are traded annually from Uganda to Kenya, and about 400,000 metric tons from Tanzania to Kenya.
Ensuring that only grain meeting the acceptable aflatoxin limits is allowed to trade freely is crucial for human health and safe trade.
At the hand-over ceremony in Bungoma, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Executive Director, Marcia Colquhoun, highlighted the plant’s role in facilitating the trade of essential grains and supporting food security.
“The aflatoxin decontamination plants are expected to facilitate trade in grains such as maize, sorghum, rice, oilseeds, spices, and groundnuts thus supporting the overall goals of food security and trade facilitation in this region, particularly for small-scale and women cross border traders,” he said.
On his part, TMA CEO Mr Dave Beer expressed optimism about the expanded trade opportunities and improved food security the facility will bring.
“This will benefit both small-scale farmers and traders on the one hand, and consumers such as schools, humanitarian agencies, and businesses on the other. This is part of TradeMark’s commitment to reduce trade barriers at borders.”
The funding for this project is part of a larger CA$3 million (US$2.2M) (about KES 350 million) package from Canada.
The remaining funds are allocated for training and creating more awareness on aflatoxins to regulatory agencies, farmers, and traders in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda on managing aflatoxins in grain supplies.