Aflatoxin is an important constraint to improving the health and well-being of African people. Rural poor in Africa are chronically exposed to unsafe levels of aflatoxins. Food consumed is usually produced, stored, prepared and marketed by farm families without much awareness of the risks of aflatoxin. Because of the serious food safety risks, human exposure to aflatoxins is limited by regulations that prohibit the use of crops containing excess quantities of aflatoxins for foods and feeds in the developed world. However, regulations are not usually effectively enforced in Africa.
Agricultural development is now once again a global priority in light of high food prices and population growth. Local procurement and robust market access efforts are being scaled up in sub-Saharan Africa. However, food quality and safety issues resulting from aflatoxin contamination has presented a significant obstacle to programs designed to improve nutrition and agricultural production while linking small farmers to markets.
To link small farmers to markets, and to improve food production and quality, it’s clear that unless aflatoxin levels in crops and livestock are effectively managed, agricultural development efforts to achieve greater food security and improve health will be undermined, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where contamination is widespread and often acute. Reduction in aflatoxin content in crops can improve access to markets thus enhancing income and reduce human exposure to the natural poison thus improving health.
Our approaches in various donor-supported aflatoxin Research-for-Development projects have the following elements: