Uganda sets sights on reducing aflatoxin burden

The federal government of Uganda has began a marketing campaign to deal with the excessive ranges of aflatoxin in meals.

The decision, supported by Oxfam, the Uganda Nationwide Bureau of Requirements (UNBS), the Grain Council of Uganda and the Worldwide Institute for Tropical Agriculture, got here forward of World Meals Security Day this yr.

Aflatoxins are mycotoxins produced by molds and may have an effect on produce that’s not well-dried. Excessive ranges may also contaminate meals crops like cereals, legumes, oil crops and others, posing a severe well being threat to people and livestock. Primarily based on previous analysis, consuming meals with excessive aflatoxin ranges will increase the chance of liver most cancers and different associated illnesses.

Excessive aflatoxin limits had been additionally described as a “main barrier” to the export of Uganda’s agricultural produce to the East African area and internationally. Contamination may also trigger crop loss, contributing to starvation.

The marketing campaign is geared toward creating consciousness and coaching all stakeholders within the worth chain, from the farm to the ultimate client, on deal with meals to keep away from contamination. 

Roles for various stakeholders
Officers stated farmers are key stakeholders within the battle and they need to undertake good agricultural practices to make sure the proper moisture content material in meals to get rid of excessive aflatoxin ranges. This consists of guaranteeing meals crops are harvested when dry, storing meals on pallets and never on the ground and protecting harvested meals throughout the wet season.

Merchants and producers ought to check moisture content material of produce to make sure it’s not greater than the really useful 13 %, and use an aflatoxin testing equipment to make sure that ranges don’t exceed 10 elements per billion, earlier than in placing it within the manufacturing chain.

Transporters had been instructed to guard produce from rain and mud and offload it as quickly as doable, upon supply. They need to additionally guarantee it’s dried to the required moisture content material earlier than transportation. 

Shoppers had been suggested to purchase and eat meals licensed by UNBS and report any distributor or seller of expired or sub-standard merchandise to the police.

“Collectively, we name upon the federal government, growth businesses and different stakeholders to extend help to the worth chains by analysis, extension, coaching, promotion of cooperatives, consciousness and help in detecting and stopping aflatoxin in order that meals produced and traded are protected for human and animal consumption and consequently enhance family incomes, enhance meals safety and enhance the standard of life.”

World Meals Programme’s function
In the meantime, the Mars firm has renewed a partnership with the World Meals Programme (WFP). 

Virginia Villar Arribas, deputy director of personal sector partnerships at WFP, stated: “The trade data and expertise that Mars brings to WFP provides appreciable worth to our work in meals security and high quality, serving to increase our capability at international and native ranges, by strategic steering, coaching and processes to strengthen resilience all through our provide chains.”

Since 2015, Mars and WFP have helped be sure that susceptible communities have entry to protected and nutritious meals. By way of the partnership, Mars and WFP have strengthened meals security methods, helped cut back threat for these receiving meals help, and offered meals security coaching to smallholder farmers. 

Maria Velissariou, vice chairman of company analysis and growth and chief science officer at Mars, stated: “Meals security challenges affect everybody from farmers to shoppers and can proceed to develop, by elements reminiscent of local weather change and provide chain pressures. There may be at all times extra to do, and partnerships are the important thing.”

WFP additionally shared a narrative on the way it has improved meals security at a faculty in Cambodia.

In 2021 whereas the college was closed due to COVID-19, WFP constructed a brand new kitchen, eating space and handwashing amenities, with help from the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA). This ensured college students, lecturers, and cooks can wash their arms earlier than getting ready, serving, and consuming meals. 

WFP has additionally offered meals security and hygiene coaching to highschool employees together with administrators, storekeepers, and cooks. This included meals storage, dealing with of recent produce, protected meals preparation practices, and primary good hygiene and sanitation.

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