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The AUC and Meridian Institute renew MOU

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.

2014: Year of Agriculture and Food Security launched at the AU Summit

During the July 2012 summit of the African Union, Heads of State and Government declared 2014 as the "Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa" also marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

On 30 January 2014, the Year of Agriculture and Food Security was launched at the 22nd AU Summit of Heads of State and Governments. The newly elected AU Chairperson, president of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, noted that this comes at an important time for Africa as the AU discusses the African Agenda 2063 that looks  into inclusive growth and sustainable development on the continent. As most African countries rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, the chairperson emphasized, this year will be a great opportunity to focus on the transformation of the agriculture sector for prosperity, growth and sustainable development in Africa. As 2014 also marks the 10th anniversary of CAADP, it is a year where all stakeholders will reflect on the successes and failures of CAADP and be able to map out the targets for the next decade.

Diourbel : Tests concluants de la Dpv contre l’aflatoxine

La Direction de la protection des végétaux (Dpv), dans le cadre de son programme d’élimination de l’aflatoxine, s’est réjouie des résultats obtenus au terme de la phase test qui a permis le traitement de 600 hectares dans huit villages aux alentours de Tawfekh.
Une visite de terrain des responsables de ce programme qui a démarré depuis 2010 a permis de se rendre compte de son efficacité. Selon eux, la lutte contre l’aflatoxine se fait à base d’un champignon produit au Sénégal sous la supervision de la Direction de la protection des végétaux (Dpv), avec le soutien de l’Institut international tropical d’Ibadan (IETA, au Nigeria), l’Université d’Arizona (Etats-Unis d'Amérique) et d’autres partenaires américains. Il consiste à utiliser ce champignon pour éliminer l’aflatoxine, cette substance cancérigène qui se trouve dans la graine d'arachide.

Amadou Lamine Senghor, Docteur en phytopathologie à la Direction de la protection des végétaux (Dpv), révèle que « la lutte se fait à partir du champ, après le dernier sarclage. L’épandage est fait dans le champ et le champignon accompagne l’arachide jusqu’au magasin ». Pour le technicien, les résultats sont probants car ils  vont jusqu’à une réduction à 90% du taux d’aflatoxine en analysant les graines qui ne sont pas triées. Et quand on procède au triage, on se retrouve avec 0% de contamination. Un résultat qui, a dit M. Senghor, est important pour la santé des populations qui consomment l’arachide, mais aussi qui va booster sa commercialisation à l’international ».

L’aflatoxine est responsable de certains types de cancer et constituait une barrière pour l’exportation de l’arachide dans certains pays. D’ailleurs, l’infirmier chef de poste de Sessène révèle : « Il y a des cas qui sont détectés dans la zone et qui sont référés au niveau supérieur pour une meilleure prise en charge ». Les producteurs d'arachide de Tawfekh, Sessène et les villages environnants se sont félicités de la réussite du programme. Pour Adama Ngom de Sessène, ce produit leur a apporté beaucoup de bien, car il n’y a plus de « guerté Sabou » et les rendements ont augmentés. Les autorités doivent trouver les voies et moyens de soutenir la production et de l’étendre au reste du pays.

Les résultats du programme d’élimination de l’aflatoxine loués

Les producteurs d’arachide de Tawfekh, un village situé dans la périphérie sud-ouest de la ville de Diourbel (Centre), ont loué vendredi les résultats du programme d’élimination de l’aflatoxine, plaidant pour le développement d’un marché capable de soutenir le coût du produit servant à éliminer cette substance cancérigène contenue dans la graine d’arachide.

Le programme d’élimination de l’aflatoxine existe depuis 2010 et utilise une méthode de lutte biologique. Un champignon produit au Sénégal est utilisé pour éliminer cette substance cancérigène et contenue dans la graine d’arachide.

Supervisé par la Direction de protection des végétaux (DPV), le programme est mis en œuvre avec le soutien de l’Institut international tropical d’Ibadan (IETA, au Nigeria), l’Université d’Arizona (Etats-Unis d’Amérique) et d’autres partenaires américains.

« On a fait des résultats qui peuvent nous donner des réductions pouvant atteindre 90% du taux d’aflatoxine contenu dans l’arachide ou le maïs. Si on trie les graines, on se retrouve avec zéro pour cent de contamination », a soutenu Amadou Lamine Senghor de la DPV, au terme d’une visite de terrain, à Tawfekh.

Aussi ces résultats sont-ils d’une grande importance pour la santé des populations, mais aussi pour l’économie rurale bridée en partie par les barrières européennes reposant sur la problématique de l’aflatoxine. Il s’agit d’une toxine responsable de certains types de cancer, a-t-il rappelé.

« L’aflatoxine est une toxine qui a eu des conséquences très néfastes sur l’économie de l’arachide au Sénégal, mais aussi sur la santé des populations. Elle est devenue un problème de santé publique, de nos jours », a souligné M. Senghor.

Il s’est réjoui des résultats obtenus par le programme, au terme d’une phase-test de quatre ans. Quelque 600 hectares ont été traités en 2013 dans huit villages environnants de Tawfekh et 16 villages situés dans le département de Nioro, dans la région de Kaolack (Centre), selon les responsables du programme d’élimination de l’aflatoxine.

Regional workshop on the aflatoxin challenge in West African States – ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in collaboration with the African Union Commission through the PACA initiative, held a workshop from 18-20 November in Accra, Ghana. The workshop aimed to identify regional priorities to address aflatoxin related issues in the West African region.

Over forty experts from the various sectors of agriculture, trade and health attended this event. Representatives from various countries were also present. The ECOWAS workshop also benefited from the experiences of other Regional Economic Communities like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) that shared its experience in established structures and mechanisms in implementing and coordinating SPS capacity development programmes. ECOWAS is one of the most advanced REC in implementing a Regional Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) which has derived from the continental framework, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The region has also made major advances in addressing food insecurity through various initiatives within the region. Furthermore, ECOWAS has developed several regulatory frameworks on Sanitary and Phystosanitary (SPS) issues as well as others that will provide a competitive edge for the region’s agricultural products and attain food security in the region.

During the workshop, expert recommendations from all three sectors were made in order to address the aflatoxin challenge in West Africa as well as calling for coordinated efforts to manage the risks to each sector and economic development as a whole. During the workshop, several cross-cutting interventions were made such as creating public awareness, building capacity in countries, creation of markets for aflatoxin safe commodities, and continuous research. Experts urged policy makers to mainstream aflatoxin issues into the relevant regional and national frameworks.

Aflatoxin Challenge in Eastern and Southern Africa—COMESA

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.

PACA Aims to Develop an Electronic Data Management System for Aflatoxins

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.

Malawi Programme for Aflatoxin Control (MAPAC)

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.

PACA Presents at the Global Forum for Innovations: Middle East and Africa Focus

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 effects of aflatoxins on animals

Aflatoxins, highly toxic compounds produced by species of Aspergillus Flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, are known carcinogens that are also associated with immunosuppression, stunting, and retardation in humans. These toxic compounds not only affect humans through consumption of contaminated food but also affect livestock. Dr. Oladele Dotun, a Veterinarian at the Animal Care Laboratory in Nigeria, presented his laboratory’s findings on the effects of aflatoxins on animals during the ECOWAS workshop in Accra, Ghana. According to Dr. Oladele, research has shown that aflatoxins cause infertility, abortions, and delayed onset of egg production in birds as well as sudden losses in egg production in actively laying birds. Furthermore, loss of appetite, skin discoloration or even yellowish pigmentation on skin can be observed in fish. Dr. Oladele emphasized the negative impact and massive losses encountered by farmers due to mortalities, egg production losses, delayed weight gain in birds and fish. In order to reduce the impact of aflatoxins on humans and animals, Dr. Oladele recommends that producers should ensure minimal contamination with toxigenic strains at pre- and post-harvest levels by applying a biocontrol product: Aflasafe®. Aflasafe® reduces aflatoxins significantly. Dr. Oladele also recommends training of farmers on proper drying methods as well as good farming practices.

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