7 March 2014

East Africa: EAC Inception Workshop On Aflatoxin Control Concludes in Burundi

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN
Aflatoxin contamination threatens food security in the region (file photo).

press release

Bujumbura — A two-day regional workshop on Aflatoxin Control Program organized by the EAC Secretariat with the support of (USAID) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) closed today in Bujumbura, Burundi.

The 6-8 March workshop saw the composition of the Regional Working Group on Aflatoxins (REWGA) mandated to provide technical and advisory guidance to EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security and key stakeholders in the region on prevention and control of aflatoxin in the region.

The constituting of REWGA was a directive of the 27th Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers held in August 2013 which directed the Sectoral Council on Agricultural to co-opt at their Sectoral Committee Meetings, relevant experts from health, trade and industry sectors when addressing matters of aflatoxins.

REWGA will work at a regional level to provide leadership for coordinating and monitoring strategic intervention on aflatoxin control.

In his closing remarks, the Minister of Health and HIV/AIDS of the Republic of Burundi, Hon. Sabine Ntakarutimana said aflatoxin contamination is not adequately and appropriately controlled or regulated within the region as most food stuffs are produced and consumed locally with no or limited testing by the relevant regulatory authorities.

In his speech delivered by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Republic of Burundi, Dr Hilaire Ninteretse stated that today, millions of people in the region consume high, unsafe levels of Aflatoxin through diets on a daily basis.

Hon Sabine Ntakarutimana informed the workshop that last year during the 27th EAC Council of Ministers meetings tasked the Secretariat to fast track implementation of the EAC Regional Aflatoxin Project in a mult-sectoral way.

"I believe that we have achieved the objectives of the workshop in introducing components and implementation arrangements of the project, reviewing the Draft Term of Reference (TOR) and constituting the Regional Working Expert Group of Aflatoxin".

The IITA representative, Dr. Francesa Nelson, appreciated the collaborative arrangement a major step in efforts towards addressing the problem of aflatoxin in the East African Community.

She emphasized the need to reach out and engage a wide range of stakeholders given the multi-sectoral nature of the project. She re-affirmed the commitment of IITA in supporting implementation of the EAC Regional Project on Aflatoxin.

On her part the representative of the United States Government, Ms Allison Thomas called upon EAC Secretariat and IITA to work on a roadmap that will explicitly illustrate the project pathway in terms of vision, goals, targets and expected outcomes and impacts.

The workshop was attended by among other experts from all the EAC Partner States, United States of America Government representatives, the African Union, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), the Media.

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Owora Richard Othieno,

Head of Department; Corporate Communications and Public Affairs;

Tel: +255 784 835021;

Email:

Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department

EAC Secretariat

Arusha, Tanzania

http://www.eac.int

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