The Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr. Ernest Umakhihe has said that the ministry in collaboration with relevant Stakeholders is determined to tackle the effect of Aflatoxin on food production in Nigeria. He stated that the initiative would help to achieve proper  nutrition and food security for all Nigerians as well as promote sustainable economic development.
The Permanent Secretary represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs Karima Babangida, made this known at the Inception Workshop on Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Technical Support to Aflatoxin Management and Mitigation in Nigeria held on Tuesday, 14th December, 2021 at Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja.
Dr. Umakhihe stated that ‘’ Aflatoxin control has been identified as one of the key nutrition sensitive cost beneficial interventions to reduce malnutrition, the ministry  is prioritizing the control and mitigation of Aflatoxin contaminations in our food and feed produce in Nigeria’’.
He said that ‘’  It was as a result of the above grave concerns and the negative public health and economic impact of mycotoxins in Nigeria food system, the Management of FMARD had a compelling need to seek the intervention of FAO to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Government in the control of Aflatoxins’’.
He informed that ‘’ the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) was officially approved by FAO-Nigeria and jointly signed with the Ministry on 22nd June, 2021″.
He further said that ‘’ the project is expected to be implemented in three project states being Kaduna, Oyo, Kano and the FCT. The key activities to be implemented under the TCP include: Inception workshop; acquisition of Aflatoxin Rapid Detection Kits/Labouratory Materials; Training of laboratory staff; recruitment of a National Consultant; training programme for Aflatoxin risk communication; Documentary and Radio Jingles; Support value chain actors to adopt and implement aflatoxin mitigation techniques and awareness on aflatoxin safe products.
He stated that, “in Nigeria, the Country-led Situation Analysis and Action Planning (C-SAAP) study commissioned by PACA in 2016 has shown that about one-third (31%) of maize meant for human consumption in Nigeria contains unsafe levels of aflatoxins. The contamination of maize ranges from 1.10 – 260.00 µg/kg. Similarly, the study showed that up to 51% of the groundnut kernels and 58% of groundnut products destined for human consumption as well as 82% of the groundnut cakes (GNC) contain aflatoxins at levels that exceed the EU regulatory limit of 4 ppb.”
The Permanent Secretary pointed out  that, “it is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide safe and nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people centered rural development and protecting the environment.”
In his welcome address, the National Project Coordinator and Deputy Director in the Ministry, Dr. Rasaq Oyeleke said that the essence of the Inception workshop is to provide a platform of stakeholders and development partners in the agricultural sector to deliberate on a work plan on measures to mitigate the effect of aflatoxin in our food production.
The FAO Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Fred Kafeero, who was represented by the Assistant Country Representative, Programmes, Mr. Suleman Abubakar in his goodwill message stated that, “The project is aimed at contributing to Nigeria’s efforts for putting in place effective food safety and quality control systems that are not only key in safeguarding the health and well-being of people, but also in fostering economic development and improving livelihoods by promoting access to domestic, regional and international markets”.
He added that, “Aflatoxins have attributed to about a 3rd of global liver cancer cases with 40percent of them occurring in Africa, making liver cancer the top cause of cancer mortality.
Also speaking during the workshop, the Director General, National Agricultural Quarantine Service Dr. Vincent Izegbe, represented by Dr. Solomon Sunday said the project would ensure the safety of food eaten and traded.He also said that Aflatoxin effects has become a crucial issue that must be tackled not only at the national but also at the  state level”.
Obe Mabel 
Senior Information Officer 
For:  Director, Information 
14 / 12/ 2021