On February 02-05, 2014, the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) convened a high level meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE on revolutionizing global agriculture through innovations. GFIA is a global forum where agricultural innovators, business leaders and other stakeholders are brought together to exchange ideas on finding solutions to feeding the world in a sustainable manner. The conference was attended by more than 3,200 participants from over 62 countries including 20 government delegations. The conference had 150 speakers with more than 100 exhibitors worldwide. HE Rashid bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, inaugurated GFIA with a welcome address on behalf of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority. The conference was attended by key individuals such as the CEO of the CGIAR Consortium who, in a keynote speech, expressed the reality that aflatoxin is costing African farmers over $450 million USD per year in lost exports. He emphasized the importance of employing technologies with great potential for reducing aflatoxin contamination such as aflasafe. This technology, which has the capacity to reduce aflatoxin contamination by up to 90 percent, has been developed by CGIAR and is being made available to farmers. Furthermore, during a panel discussion on “Africa: the Frontier for Arid Farming”, the Director General of International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) reiterated the importance of recognizing aflatoxin as a major problem. He also emphasized the important role for resistant varieties and agronomic practices in helping the groundnut sector of some African countries to revive and resume exporting the crop to bigger markets. Dr. Amare Ayalew, Program Manager for the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), was invited to GFIA as a speaker where he presented PACA and how it is waging war against aflatoxins in Africa. He also highlighted the aflatoxin challenge in Africa and PACA’s approaches to addressing this vexing problem and to promoting innovations. Read more about PACA’s presentation on WEBSITE
The Malawi Programme for Aflatoxin Control (MAPAC) is a new initiative of Malawi which aims at improving the health and livelihood of its people by effectively managing and controlling aflatoxin in its staple crops such as maize and groundnuts. Through the use of research, introduction of good practices, development of testing capacities in laboratories, and pushing for good policies, MAPAC tries to develop Malawi’s capacity to effectively control and reduce aflatoxin contamination in the key value chains. Malawi has established a Bureau of Standards (MBS) which is responsible for providing testing of locally manufactured and imported commodities. Tested commodities that have achieved compliance with the requirements of the Bureau will receive a seal. Although in recent years its credibility has decreased, MBS provides testing services to groundnut exporters in the country. A second laboratory has also been established as a national reference laboratory for mycotoxin analysis at the Chitedze Agricultural Research Station (CARS). This lab is recognized for providing reliable aflatoxin testing to processors and exporters in the country. MAPAC further tries to strengthen the sampling and testing capacities that already exist as well as strengthening the policy frameworks in place. MAPAC is an initiative fully aligned with global, continental, regional and sub-regional strategic priorities such as that of the Partnership for aflatoxin Control in Africa.
The Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), in collaboration with the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) of the African Union, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other institutions, is organizing a region
One of PACA’s main roles identified within its Strategy 2013-2022, is to act as an information clearing house. PACA is therefore developing an electronic aflatoxin data management system that will serve as a “one stop shop” for information related to aflatoxins. On the margins of the ECOWAS workshop in Accra, Ghana (see page 1), PACA convened a meeting of experts to develop methodology to successfully implement an electronic data management system in AU Member States. The e-data management system will be used mainly for promoting public awareness, advocacy and communication on aflatoxin prevalence and risk, promoting regional and intra-regional trade, generating evidence to inform interventions, as well as providing information on early warning systems for aflatoxin outbreaks. This system will be hosted by the current Animal Resource Information System (ARIS II) of the African Union Inter-Africa Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR). ARIS II is a decentralized information management system which enables AU member states to be self-sufficient in standardized and swift information flow at all levels. ARIS II allows for different modules to be built (i.e., an aflatoxin module) and fed information. This information will come from existing structures at country and regional levels as well as relevant organizations. Information is gathered and fed into the system at all levels from the farm, district, province, nation as well as regional and others.
The Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), in collaboration with the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) of the African Union, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other institutions, is organizing a regional workshop on the aflatoxin challenge in Eastern and Southern Africa.
The workshop’s main objectives will be to sensitize key stakeholders on the aflatoxin challenge in the region, to assess current efforts to mitigate aflatoxins, as well as setting regional priorities. This will enable COMESA countries to develop regional action plans on aflatoxin control to further strengthen regional and intra-regional trade as well as protect human health. The workshop will be held in Lilongwe, Malawi from 11-13 March 2014.
The African Union Commission through the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) is working to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Governments to tackle the aflatoxin challenge in Africa. The PACA Secretariat, housed at the AUC’s Department for Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA), is working closely with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and local country stakeholders through country aflatoxin Steering Committees to support the preparation, execution, and oversight of country government‐led, and stakeholder aligned plans. PACA and the Republic of Uganda convened a Business Meeting of stakeholders to agree on the funding strategy and implementation road map that will ensure sustainable and predictable funding for implementing the aflatoxin control action plan in the country. The Business Meeting took place in Kampala, Uganda on 28-29 July 2016.
H.E. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, AUC’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture opened the business meeting by assuring the Republic of Uganda, of the AUC’s commitment to support implementation of the aflatoxin control action plan, which will contribute to the agenda to regain its markets, people’s health and food security. She commended the progress made by the Republic of Uganda in institutionalizing PACA in its farming systems through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Commissioner Tumusiime also officially launched the Uganda Mycotoxin Mitigation Steering Committee (UMMSC) which provides conceptual, strategic and policy guidance to the secretariat and Aflatoxin Technical Working Group (ATWG) – the Uganda Chapter, in the planning, implementation and coordination of mycotoxin mitigation activities in the country.
Hon. Ssempijja Vincent Bamulangaki Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda, represented by Ag. Director of extension services, Mrs. Beatrice Byarugaba, committed to incorporate the aflatoxins mitigation under the Ministry’s Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan and to also take into account the multi-disciplinary roles of agriculture, health and trade ministries in fighting aflatoxins. Hon. Bamulangaki noted that without mitigating aflatoxins, it would be difficult to fully develop the fisheries, animal and crop sub-sectors in the country.
Dr. Patrick Tusiime, Commissioner, National Disease Control, representing the Ministry of Health, assured the meeting of the Ministry’s support in advancing interventions that address the impact of Aflatoxins particularly within the preventative context of disease management, noting that a healthy nation is a productive nation!
For more information, please review the Press Release.