African Union Commission Launches Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa

November 16, 2012
USDAIITA Plant Pathologist Ranajit Bandyopadhyay provides instruction to farmers who will field test biocontrol solutions to aflatoxin in Nigeria.

On October 31, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union Commission (AUC) launched an important new partnership to address the threat of aflatoxin in Africa. Aflatoxins are among the most common types of mycotoxins, poisonous substances produced by toxic fungi that frequently colonize crops in the field and during storage, making them unsafe for human and livestock consumption.

In Africa, aflatoxin contamination is a major cause of post-harvest losses and constitutes a significant threat to food security and livelihoods.  It also poses a major public health challenge to consumers all over the continent.

To address these challenges, the new Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) aims to adapt proven solutions, and identify new ones, that will help smallholder farmers in Africa combat aflatoxin contamination. In 2011, the U.S. Government announced a $12 million commitment to support these efforts at the AGOA Forum held in Lusaka, Zambia. This commitment specifically facilitates the use of a natural biological control of aflatoxin developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, addresses the enabling food safety regulatory environments related to aflatoxin, and provides technical assistance in support of improved post-harvest storage methods.

Members of PACA will include rural economic communities, agribusiness and the industry sector, agricultural research institutions, farmer organizations, health organizations, consumer organizations, and donors. At the launch event in Addis Ababa, numerous speakers discussed policy and technical information about the challenges and opportunities associated with aflatoxin. Their Excellencies Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, and Fatima Haram Acyl, commissioner for trade and industry for the AUC, inaugurated a full Steering Committee of diverse leadership to guide the work of PACA in the future.

U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Michael Anthony Battle, Sr., also delivered remarks, expressing his appreciation to the AUC for its continued leadership on critical issues impacting the lives of Africans and emphasizing the U.S. Government’s commitment to strong partnership with the Africa Union and African governments to tackle the problem of aflatoxin contamination.