EAC seeks cash from US to fund aflatoxin law

Sunday March 15 2020


Farmers put out their maize to dry. PHOTO | FILE  

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East African Community (EAC) has sought Sh20 million from US government to finance the crafting of a legal framework to guide the fight against cancer-causing toxins threatening the region's food security.

The legal framework — EAC Aflatoxin Bill — which has been submitted to USAid for review is intended to guide the six-member bloc in combating aflatoxin.

It is estimated that Kenyan farmers lose up to 30 percent of their produce to aflatoxin attack.

Fahari Marwa, principal agriculture economist at the EAC, said the response to the request has so far been good "and we expect to get the funding soon" to fast-track the enactment of the law in the next two years.

Lack of provisions on aflatoxin management in the existing policy and regulatory framework, the official said, has impacted negatively on the fight against the threat.

Having a law in place will be instrumental, he said.


“This is a massive project that requires funding and we have already approached USAid for funding assistance,” said Mr Marwa.

He spoke in Nairobi on Thursday as stakeholders met to review implementation of the EAC strategy and action plan on aflatoxin control.

The meeting, which has also taken place in other member States, is aimed at coming up with measures to curb the effects of aflatoxin.

EAC pointed out that financial challenges have become one of the major constraints to coming up with the mechanisms to combat aflatoxin that has seen some member States stop maize coming in because of high levels of this disease-causing fungi.

In 2017, EAC council of ministers passed that each member State set aside funds for implementing a strategy to keep aflatoxin at bay.

The bloc has agreed on the use of Aflasafe, which is currently being manufactured in Kenya.
Kenya was the first country to adopt it and the second in Africa after Nigeria.

Aflasafe KE01, if applied to maize three weeks before flowering, reduces chances of aflatoxin attack by 70 percent.

Other EAC countries that have opened a manufacturing plant for Aflasafe are Tanzania and Rwanda, the latter at the tail end of putting up one.