Meridian Institute—with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (DfID)—is supporting the African Union Commission and engaging a broad range of stakeholders in the development of a Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA). PACA is a collaboration that aims to protect crops, livestock and people from the effects of aflatoxins. By combating this toxin, PACA will contribute to improving food security, health and trade across the African continent.
Aflatoxins are organic compounds produced by two species of Aspergillus mold. They are highly toxic to humans and animals, causing liver disease and cancer. Chronic exposure to aflatoxins is associated with stunting and immune system suppression.
Aflatoxin-producing molds affect grain and other food crops—maize and groundnuts in particular. Toxicity can also travel up the food chain. It causes health problems in livestock through contaminated feed, and in humans through unsafe levels of aflatoxins in dietary staples.
With support and facilitation from Meridian Institute, the African Union Commission (AUC) is the lead organization in PACA and works with a steering committee representing farmers; consumers; research and technology organizations; healthcare and trade professionals; as well as the private sector. PACA facilitates collaboration among stakeholders across the African continent to achieve PACA’s vision: an Africa free from the harmful effects of aflatoxins.
If this vision is achieved, millions of Africans will no longer be exposed to high, unsafe levels of aflatoxins. And, with aflatoxin contamination reduced to safe levels, Africa’s food crops are more likely to meet international food safety standards, enabling African countries to massively increase their export potential.
To find out more about PACA, please visit www.aflatoxinpartnership.org.