Nigeria loses 5,000 lives, $155m yearly to Aflatoxin, says PACA

Nigeria

The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) has claimed that Nigeria loses about $155 million and 5,000 persons to liver cancer yearly, while Africa loses $670m to the scourge.

Its Country Officer in Nigeria, Mrs. Stella Denloye, who stated this in Abuja in an interview with The Guardian, explained that Alfatoxin was responsible for the disappearance of the groundnut pyramids in the North.

She said: “We used to have groundnut pyramid in Nigeria, which had since disappeared due to the fact that countries that we were exporting to identified Aflatoxin as challenges to groundnut export and decided not to accept our groundnuts again.

“As a result of this stunted growth of groundnut production due to Aflatoxin, Nigeria loses about $155 million and about 5,000 of its citizens to cancer of the liver yearly.

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“Liver cancer is not a treatable ailment. These are the major issues that underline the urgent need for Nigeria to tackle Aflatoxin headlong because of its huge effects on the country’s health and economy.”

Denloye said PACA was established to mitigate the impacts of Aflatoxin on food crops from the soil to storage and handling.

She added: “If Aflatoxin is toxin that if not treated, can cause health risks such as liver cancer. It also threatens food security because if our maize or groundnuts are contaminated, we won’t be able to export them.

“PACA is a programme of the African Union Commission established to carry out six pilot countries in Africa to help them develop policies that would control and manage Aflatoxin and their impacts on the continent.”

She said Nigeria has also identified Aflatoxin as a very serious issue that needed urgent attention considering its threats to health and agribusiness in the country.

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“PACA is aimed at ensuring that Aflatoxin related issues are wholly captured in the Nigerian Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP) so we can avoid Aflatoxin that has been causing a lot of problems in Africa.

“Africa identified Aflatoxin as a great challenge to their agricultural development.”

She also hinted that PACA was supporting Nigeria in its policy development to mainstream strategies that have been identified in its agricultural investment plans.

Delonye stated that PACA programme also supports capacity building and research innovations, adding: “There is a research innovation that the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) developed called ‘Aflasafe’, which is an intervention against Aflatoxin development in crops.

“It is a product that has been developed scientifically. It has the capacity to compete with natural fungus that is either in the field, farm or environment.

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“We support ‘Aflasafe’ with good agricultural practice, hygienic practice, warehouse practice, handling practices because if all these are done properly, if one takes all the precautions in the world, we may still not get the desired result if our farmers are not adopting good practices.”

Source: The Guardian