"Aflatoxins can be produced anytime and anywhere along the food and feed value chains. The presence of aflatoxins in food and feed have adversely affected the health of the population and the ability of the continent to trade with the rest of the world," Professor Sheila Okoth, University of Nairobi
Aflatoxins are highly poisonous compounds produced by the Aspergillus fungus, which occur in soil. Several of the food crops grown in Africa, such as cassava, chili, groundnuts, maize, rice, sorghum, teff, and major cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, tea and sugarcane have been found to be contaminated with these dangerous toxins. They have also been found in processed foods such as peanut butter and foods from animal sources like egg and milk.
Aflatoxins cause cancers in humans and animals. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, aflatoxin B1 is the most potent natural carcinogen so far known. About 26,000 Africans living south of the Sahara die of liver cancer every year through chronic aflatoxin exposure.
Because of their potency and the wide range of commodities they affect, aflatoxins pose serious risks to human health, agricultural production and trade.
On 21 November 2016,the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU (CTA) and the African Union Commission's Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) launched a working paper entitled Improving the Evidence Base on Aflatoxin Contamination and Exposure in Africa: Strengthening the Agriculture-Nutrition Nexus.