ZAMBIA – The African Union (AU) recently convened a capacity building workshop titled “Domesticating the AU Strategic Framework for Holistic Aflatoxin Control”  in Lusaka, Zambia.

The workshop brought together stakeholders from 12 newly selected African countries, along with representatives from successful pilot nations and members of the academic and scientific communities.

It focused on various key aspects, including sharing successes and challenges in implementing the country-led model, identifying ways to scale up this model across all 55 AU Member States, and developing a roadmap for the framework’s implementation to enhance aflatoxin control continent-wide.

One of the highlights of the event was the inspiring success story of Tanzania, a pilot country that has effectively pooled funds totaling USD 35.32 million for its Tanzania Initiative for Preventing Aflatoxin Contamination (TANIPAC) project.

The project, being implemented in 18 councils in Tanzania Mainland and two councils in Zanzibar, started in April this year and is envisioned to be completed in May next year.

TANIPAC will as well create bylaws for the local government to enforce the adoption of the recommended Good Agricultural Practices and technologies (GAP) among the farmers, transporters, processors, and other actors along the value chains of maize and groundnuts.

This remarkable achievement, supported by PACA-AUC, exemplifies the impact of strong public awareness, governmental support, and strategic partnerships in combating aflatoxin contamination.

The event marked a crucial milestone following the endorsement of the framework by the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council in February 2020.

Aflatoxins, harmful toxins that contaminate agricultural products such as groundnuts, maize, rice, and sorghum, pose severe health risks, including cancer, when consumed in large quantities.

Recognizing the significant challenges aflatoxin contamination creates for health, trade, and agriculture in Africa, the African Union established the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) in October 2012.

PACA aims to coordinate and support efforts to manage and reduce aflatoxins on the continent.

Encouraged by the success of initial pilot projects in countries like Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, and Senegal, the AU developed the “Domesticating the AU Strategic Framework for Holistic Aflatoxin Control.”

This strategic blueprint serves as a guide to further aflatoxin mitigation endeavors across the African continent.

On average, 26,000 Africans living in Sub-Saharan Africa die of liver cancer every year through chronic aflatoxin exposure, reports the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Nigeria alone is said to lose at least 5,000 lives to aflatoxicosisevery year.

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