The African Union Commission and Meridian Institute, USA, have renewed the Memorandum of Understanding that was originally signed by both parties in September 2012 on the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) on January 14, 2014. This day did not only mark the renewal of the MoU but also the signing of a grant agreement to the tune of US$ 1.2 million between the two parties to support PACA Secretariat operational and programmatic activities in 2014. The MoU and grant agreement were signed by the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, on behalf of the AUC, and by Senior Partner of Meridian Institute, Mrs. Barbara Stinson. They both emphasized the importance of this partnership and the continued fight against the aflatoxin problem in Africa.
After the successful completion of the PACA Pilot Country Activities Inception Workshop in June 2014, PACA, COMESA and SADC held roundtable discussions in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, and PACA and ECOWAS held roundtable discussions in The Gambia and Senegal to get input and endorsement from government officials on the implementation of activities. The meetings were attended by representatives of each government, the African Union Commission, the respective Regional Economic Community, and various experts and stakeholders to discuss PACA activities and implementation process in the pilot countries. During the roundtable discussions, the delegates acknowledged the ongoing work in these countries and recommended actions for further strengthening current programs. The representatives agreed on three major initial activities in the five pilot countries and recognized these activities as fully supporting current aflatoxin programs and activities in the countries:
Activity 1: Establish Africa Aflatoxin Information Management System (AfricaAIMS);
Activity 2: Support Country-led Situation Analysis and Action Planning (C-SAAP); and
Activity 3: Mainstream Food Safety and Aflatoxin Control through the PACA initiative in CAADP National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans (Mainstream FoodSAC).
PACA, working with Regional Economic Communities, selected five pilot countries to roll out aflatoxin control activities using criteria agreed upon during the 10th CAADP Partnership Platform in March 2014. PACA is pleased to announce The Gambia, Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda as the first set of pilot countries. An Inception Workshop on PACA Pilot Country Activities was held on 10-11 June 2014 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The workshop focused on review and discussion of the planned activities for 2014. At the workshop participants agreed on the methodology and time-line for implementation of activities in the pilot countries. The workshop was attended by food safety authorities, academia and line ministries of all five pilot countries (from the health, trade and agriculture sector) as well as the corresponding Regional Economic Community representatives. During the meeting, member states and Regional Economic Communities recognized the importance of adequate and reliable information on aflatoxins to inform policy and aflatoxin mitigation interventions. The Africa Aflatoxin Information Management System (AfricaAIMS) was therefore welcomed and endorsed. Africa AIMS will generate reliable home-grown data to inform policies in the countries where it is implemented.
One of the major challenges in mitigating aflatoxin in Africa is the lack of adequate information and harmonized data collection on the subject. Yet information is needed to inform policy and interventions; inform prioritization of resource allocation; and promote country capacity and awareness on the aflatoxin issue. Through the PACA initiative, the African Union Commission will establish an Africa Aflatoxin Information Management System (AfricaAIMS) that will serve as a “one stop shop” information harbor for aflatoxin information in the health, trade and agriculture sectors. Data on the AfricaAIMS will be “home‐grown” owned by AU Member States and respective Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The information on the AfricaAIMS will serve policy makers, regulatory bodies, potential investors, technical agencies (health, trade and agriculture), researchers, farmers, civil society organizations (CSOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), private sector partners along the value chain and other interested parties. In September and October 2014, the PACA Secretariat conducting training sessions for its pilot countries. The Secretariat will also provide guidance on how other countries can contribute data to AfricaAIMS.
In November 2014, BBC Science program Horizons featured Mobile Assay’s Lab-on-Mobile-Device platform diagnostic tools. Mobile Assay developed their diagnostic platform for use with any Rapid Diagnostic Test.
Mobile Assay's smartphone application could offer a cheap way for African farming communities to manage aflatoxin. The application could also contribute to building a ‘big data’ set to assist research on aflatoxin outbreaks.The Lab-on-Mobile-Device platform can detect aflatoxins as accurately as a laboratory test, but can be carried out anywhere at a fraction of the cost using a smartphone camera.