BUJUMBURA August 10th (ABP) – The fight against aflatoxins should be a reality in Burundi because, like the rest of other African countries, the current conditions in Africa are contributing to an increase in the prevalence of aflatoxin and chronic exposure to it, Mr. Gahungu Christophe, researcher at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, told a check by ABP in an interview.
Aflatoxins are toxins caused by certain poisonous fungi. They contaminate crops (especially maize, peanuts and soybeans), humans and animals causing enormous damage to health (liver cancer), trade and agriculture.
According to him, a recent study carried out in Kenya showed that the people of all economic strata are widely exposed to aflatoxins. The most toxic aflatoxin of all, in blood serum, was the same among the better-off and the poor, with the middle wealth quintile hit the hardest. Awareness actions should be carried out, according to the researcher, to teach the people to reduce excessive calorific dependence on the foods concerned, to reduce the daily and long-term ingestion of risky products and to promote better food processes within households.
In addition, tests to measure aflatoxin in the blood or in breast milk should be instituted. In agriculture, awareness-raising actions should be carried out as a matter of urgency on good agricultural practices during growing, harvesting and post-harvest treatment. Animal health should also be protected with the use of aflatoxin-free foods
At the trade level, he advocated for improved laboratory capacity and availability of rapid test kits, user training, and documentation of results and removal of contaminated products. He also called for the wide dissemination of requirements for maximum acceptable levels for aflatoxin and for improving the inspection capacities of national food security enforcement agencies.