The Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), in collaboration with the Grain Council Uganda (TGCU), Uganda National Farmer’s Federation (UNFFE), Food rights Alliance (FRA), PELUM and ESAFF have embarked on a campaign to fight against the high Aflatoxin levels in food stuffs, to promote consumption of safe food in the country.
The efforts, supported by OXFAM, come at a time when Uganda joins the world to celebrate World Food Safety Day 2022, under the theme: Safer food, better health.
Aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by moulds when they attack produce that is not well-dried. High levels of Aflatoxins contaminate food crops like Cereals, legumes, oil crops and others, posing a serious health threat to humans and livestock. According to research, consuming foods with high aflatoxins levels increases the risk of contracting liver cancer and other related diseases, which could lead to death.
Besides health, high Aflatoxin levels are a major barrier to the exportation of Uganda’s agricultural produce to the East African Region and internationally.
Internationally, Aflatoxins pose a significant economic burden, which according to World Health Organization (WHO) 2018 report, causes an estimated 25% or more of the world’s food crop loss, consequently contributing to hunger.
Call for Joint efforts
Therefore, the campaign against high levels of Aflatoxins is aimed at creating awareness about this poison and training all stakeholders in the value chains, right from the farm to the final consumer, on how to handle food to avoid Aflatoxin contamination. This therefore calls for joint effort from every stakeholder: farmers, transporters, traders, manufacturers, Civil Society Organizations, the private sector, regulators and the consumers to join the fight against high Aflatoxin levels in food.
The efforts also contribute to the attainment of the National Development Plan III goal to ‘Increase household incomes and improved quality of life’ and Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 1 on No Poverty, SDG 2 on attaining Zero Hunger, and SDG 3 on Good Health and Wellbeing.