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.
The African Union Commission (AUC) is hiring five positions to strenghten the PACA Secretariat at the AUC Headquarters. The positions are: Senior Communication Officer, Knowledge Manager, Policy Advisor, Strategy and Operations Principal Officer, and Technical Advisor. This is part of the ongoing efforts to meet increasing continental and regional coordination and knowledge management functions as well as to provide effective support to the development, implementation and monitoring of national plans towards mitigating the aflatoxin challenge. The new staff will collectively bring diverse expertise to fully establish the Secretariat as a leader and preeminent player in aflatoxin control in Africa. The deadline for applying for the positions expired on 12 June 2015. The PACA Secretariat thanks all who submitted an application. Candidates are being evaluated through the deliberative AUC Human Resources process. More news will follow soon. Thank you
For the first time, Kenyan farmers will have access to a product that can dramatically reduce aflatoxin contamination. During the 127th meeting of the Board of Management, the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) held on 29 June 2015 granted full registration status to the biocontrol product Aflasafe KE01™, with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) as the registrant, paving the way for its unhindered use in Kenya. For more information, please click here.
Aflasafe received media attention, which can be seen at the following links:
- Scientific American: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fungus-used-to-quash-cancer-causing-toxin/
- National Geographic: http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/05/aflatoxin-the-silent-threat-to-africas-food-supply/
- Discovery Learning Channel: https://vimeo.com/131296185
Please visit the Aflasafe Facebook page for frequent updates.
PACA participated in the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) 42 on 12-15 October 2015, FAO, Rome, Italy. Dr. Amare Ayalew, PACA Program Director, featured in a side event on "Multi-Sector Partnerships Drive Food Safety Solutions." As one of five panel members, he described the strategic focus of PACA and the role its partnerships play in using research, expertise and other capabilities to seek solutions for controlling, managing and ultimately eliminating aflatoxins in Africa. Other panel members included:
- Mr. Jay Aldous, World Food Programme (WFP) who described the challenges WFP faces in feeding millions of people under adverse economic, social and environmental conditions and describes WFP’s efforts to adapt to purchasing local commodities to process, manufacture and disseminate safe, affordable and nutritious foods.
- Ms. Paulina S. Addy, Ministry of Food & Agriculture, Government of Ghana who focused on the gender dimensions of agricultural programs, including safe handling of agricultural commodities from post production and building capacity on safety at small scale food processing sites and markets.
- Mr. Dave Crean, Mars, Incorporated who described business roles in addressing aflatoxins; the need and value of building partnerships throughout the food value chains; and offers insights into Mars partnerships, including the newly launched Mars Global Food Safety Center in China and the unique characteristics of this center of excellence. .
- Dr. Mandana Arabi, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) who described GAIN’s innovative Business Platform for Nutrition Research (BPNR) with multi sector stakeholders to assess critical issues such as behavior change modification, biomarkers and establishing research priorities for mycotoxins, including aflatoxins.