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Meridian Institute

PACA in 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Throughout 2015, Meridian Institute continued to assist the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) in its efforts to help control aflatoxins. (Aflatoxins are organic compounds produced by mold that are highly toxic to humans and animals. Aflatoxin-producing molds affect grain and other food crops—maize and groundnuts in particular—in Africa.) The PACA Steering Committee (SC) convened in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2015 to report on progress and authorize activities for the year. Through several committee meetings, PACA confirmed progress and budgeted for continued work in five pilot countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, The Gambia, and Senegal. In addition, SC members agreed to launch Nigeria as a sixth pilot country.

Each country has installed a team of scientists and technical experts to assess the aflatoxin contamination situation in their country and convene multiple stakeholders to validate an aflatoxin control plan of action through the Ministries of Agriculture, Trade and Health. Because the Meridian-based PACA grant begins to draw to a close in 2015–16, the PACA SC also initiated work with development partners to raise ongoing funds to support the PACA Secretariat and pilot countries through 2020 and beyond.

Staff of the Storage and Drying for Aflatoxin Prevention (AflaSTOP) project grading maize samples. While in Kenya, SC members conducted a field trip to learn more about the host country’s efforts to mitigate aflatoxin. Many efforts are underway to address the aflatoxin problem, and the Kenyan government allocated 1.5 billion Kenyan Shillings ($16.5 million) to fight the aflatoxin problem in the country. In Nairobi, SC members visited the AflaSTOP project (Storage and Drying for Aflatoxin Prevention) and the Biosciences eastern and central Africa – International Livestock Research Institute (BecA–ILRI) Hub, and met with Mr. Joseph Ngetich, Assistant Director of Agriculture and Head of the Crops Protection Division in Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture, to discuss aflatoxin control activities by the government of Kenya and explore linkages to PACA activities.

In May, PACA and the United Republic of Tanzania conducted a stakeholders' review of the Tanzania Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan (TAFSIP), to identify opportunities to mainstream aflatoxin. The workshop was coordinated by the PACA Secretariat and the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority and hosted by the Nelson Mandela–African Institution of Science and Technology (NM–AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania. Stakeholders from academia, community-based organizations, the private sector, and the Ministries of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Health and Social Welfare, and Industry and Trade attended. They jointly reviewed and refined an Aflatoxin Mitigation Action Plan prepared by consultants from NM–AIST and Sokoine University of Agriculture. The group endorsed the refined Action Plan, identified potential sources of funding for strategic actions, and agreed on a path forward for mainstreaming aflatoxin mitigation into the Agriculture Sector Development Plan and TAFSIP implementation. Other PACA pilot countries will conduct similar workshops as they develop and implement national action plans for aflatoxin control.

In September 2015, PACA organized a regional workshop on “Revamping Ground Nut Value Chains of West Africa through Aflatoxin Mitigation,” in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other stakeholders. A diverse group of about 90 stakeholders met in Dakar, Senegal, to identify high-impact projects to mitigate the aflatoxin problem and promote a flourishing groundnut industry in West Africa.

For more information on PACA’s many achievements in 2015, in particular in regions and pilot countries, please visit: http://aflatoxinpartnership.org/?q=regional-workshops-and-action-plans.