Experts list challenges to aflatoxin elimination
Lack of awareness by consumers and ignorance on the part of frontline health workers on risks of aflatoxins have been identified as factors responsible for increased impact of aflatoxins in the country.
According to reports, Aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts results in 7,761 liver cancer cases; total burden of 100,965 disability adjusted life years lost due to death or disability caused by disease; and stunted growth of 4.4 million children consuming maize and groundnuts contaminated by aflatoxin.
PACA Country Officer, Stella Denloye, who revealed this at the AgResults Pilot Year Three Innovation Platform and Market Linkages Workshop, in Lagos, lamented that majority of African consumers (poor and rich) are not aware of dangers of contaminated food.
She noted that 80 per cent of health workers in the country never share the risk of exposure with patients. Speaking on the topic: “Aflatoxins: Impact on Agriculture, Trade and Health in Nigeria,” she disclosed that findings from PACA’s survey shows that Aflatoxin levels are well above safe levels in Nigeria staple foods like maize and groundnuts.
“The largest impact of aflatoxins in Nigeria is on human health. Low awareness about aflatoxins impact among farmers, processors, rural traders, and consumers; low awareness creation by agricultural extension messaging on aflatoxin control by GAP and food safety; low application of biological control; low adoption of aflatoxin control practices by farmers, processors, rural traders, and consumers; and little use of improved storage due to perceived and lack of affordability, among others.
She noted that recent food insecurity due to conflict situations in some parts of Nigeria has compelled people to consume contaminated food, adding that Aflatoxin control has been identified as one of the four key nutrition sensitive cost beneficial interventions with potential to impact nutrition scale up in Nigeria and reducing malnutrition and promoting the health of the populace.
Denloye listed solutions as Change awareness to exposure and consumption; change political will/good governance; research based interventions; enhance capacity for management through: infrastructure, regulations, assessment, monitoring and enforcement systems; encourage local technology interventions; and encouragement of production and ready markets for aflatoxin reduced commodities.
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