Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Experts Meet to Tackle Killer Fungi in African Food Crops

By Rosemary Mirondo
Dar es Salaam — African scientists are deliberating on ways to eliminate aflatoxins which hamper trade.

African economies lose Sh975 billion ($450 million) annually due to the toxic compounds that are produced by certain moulds found in food and can cause liver damage and cancer contaminate staple commodities.

Globally, about Sh2.6 trillion ($1.2 billion) in commerce is lost annually due to aflatoxin contamination.

At the Second Aflatoxin Biocontrol Workers' Network Workshop here at the weekend, a team of scientists from 13 African nations and beyond sought ways of improving the health of Africans by reducing exposure to aflatoxins.

The participants focused on progress made in rolling out Aflasafe, an effective and safe biological control product which reduces the prevalence of aflatoxins in treated maize and groundnuts by 80 to 99 percent from farm to fork.

A senior plant pathologist with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria, and team leader of IITA's aflasafe projects, Dr Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, said aflatoxins cause cancer and liver diseases, suppress the body immunity, retard the growth of children, and in cases of extreme poisoning, lead to rapid deaths of humans and livestock.

"Aflatoxins are highly toxic chemicals produced mainly by fungi in several food crops," Dr Bandyopadhyay said.

Source:The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

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