Rising aflatoxins in food import worry East Africa states

By Joseph Checky Abuje

 

The East Africa partner states have expressed fear that there is increasing levels of aflatoxins in the foodstuff imported into the region.

“The fight against aflatoxin can be won by putting in place the necessary legislation, regulations, standards, coordination, infrastructure, capacity development, and innovation,” he said, noting that efforts are being put in place to promote safe trade through the construction of Busia Jumuiya market,” said Kevit Subash Desai is the Principal Secretary (PS) in the State Department of East Africa Community (EAC) in the Ministry of East Africa Community and Regional Development of Vocational and Technical Education (TVET).

EABC Executive Director, Dr. Peter Mathuki said Aflatoxin in foodstuffs, as well as COVID-19 pandemic, have caused a heavy toll on cash flow among East African Member states, frustrating normal volumes of business exports across East Africa countries.

Dr Mathuki said between January and June this year exports from Kenya to Uganda was 254 USD compared to 235 USD during the same period last year; this confirms Uganda is a key strategic partner for Kenya and vice versa.

He also noted that exports from Kenya to Uganda decreased while Uganda’s exports to Kenya increased. EAC member states are set to lose USD250 due to aflatoxin with the African continent to lose 700 USD, adding that 40 percent of local food consumed is aflatoxin-contaminated.

Busia County government Trade Executive, Judith Maketso who represented Governor Sospeter Ojaamong said there is an urgent need to address the issue of aflatoxin and the use of ICT in training small-scale cross-border traders to keep their operations intact even under threats of aflatoxins and Covid-19 conditions.

Those present included EU Regional Trade Adviser Martiijn Boelen, TMEA, Director Infrastructure Sjoerd Visse, Long Distance Drivers and Conductors Association chairman Elijah Nyaga, Kenya Transport Association representative Mercy Njeri and Busia Cross Border Association chairman David Erulu.

The PS later received test kits for Covid-19 donated by East African Surveillance Disease Network through Makerere University as the lead agency.

The PS said the huge traffic pile up at the Kenya-Uganda border entry points of Busia and Malaba is attributed to a shortage of reagents, which he said the Government has since obtained adequate supplies with the snarl-up expected to reduce drastically within the next few days.

This was revealed after a tour of officials from the Ministry of East African Community, East African Business Council (EABC), Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), European Union and  International Organization for Migration (IOM) visit to Busia One-Stop Border started the tour of Busia.

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