Nigeria loses N617bn export revenue to mycotoxins in food
High levels of mycotoxins content in food are responsible for the loss of N617 billion which Nigeria could have made from non-oil exports in 9 years if the mycotoxins levels were well below safe levels.
Hussaini Makun, professor of biochemistry, Federal University of Technology, Minna, made this know during his keynote address at the 12th annual conference of Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria (MSN) with the theme ‘Mycotoxins in Agricultural Commodities: Implication for Food/Feed Safety and Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa’ held recently in Lagos.
“Between 2007 and 2016 there was rejection of Nigeria produce at EU borders due to the mycotoxins levels which culminated to the impositions on import ban restricting export of five major agricultural produce from Nigeria to any European member country. This cost a decline of N617 billion or 34.6 percent non-crude component of trade including processed and unprocessed food items,” said Makun.
“Cereal grains accounts for half of the calories consumed by humans all over the world but this group of agricultural commodities are easily affected by fungi that yield these mycotoxins,” Makun said.
He noted that mycotoxins are poisonous chemical compounds produced by certain fungi/moulds that are threats to food and feed for human and animal consumption with regards to long term poisoning and thus, constitute challenge to agriculture and food security.
Makun stated that these food toxics cannot be easily detected by seeing or tasting foods because of its colourless, odourless and tasteless nature, stating that it can only be detected by Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay (ELISA).
He called on the government to take the issue of mycotoxins in foods as a matter of high importance because of its adverse effect on human health, animal health and the country’s foreign trade, saying it is the major cause of liver cancer in the country.
“Mycotoxins have harmful effects on humans and animals. They are very cancerous and suppress human immune system. We conducted a research and 91 fungi species where discovered in 2133 samples of grain crops in Nigeria. This shows that only 19.3 percent of food is safe for our consumption,” the professor said.
Makun noted that mycotoxins are majorly found in maize groundnuts, beans, sorghum amongst others.
According to researchers there are five groups of mycotoxins which are; aflatoxins, ochratoxins, fumonisins, deoxynivalenol/nivalenol and zearalenone.
Isaac Ogara, secretary, MSN and a lecturer at the department of Agronomy, Nasarawa State University said that the mycotoxins content in crops can be reduced by mainstreaming control strategies in the country’s farming systems along the value chain.
“Farmers need to have awareness that there are deadly chemical substances that occur naturally without their knowing. One of the strategies that farmers can protect their crops from these toxins is to harvest their crops early. Harvesting early help to reduce the incidence of mycotoxins,” Ogara said.
“Farmers must also ensure that they carry out good farming practices by ensuring that they carry out all the cultivation practices according to recommendations and dry their crops properly. Crops must be properly dried with moisture content of about 12-14 percent,” the secretary added.
He also stated that the use of Neem tree and Jatropha extracts also help to reduce levels of mycotoxins in foods. He noted that the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has developed a product called aflasafe which farmers can adopt to reduce the occurrence of the toxicogenic fungi.
In her opening address, Folasade Bosede Oluwabamiwo, president, MSN said “the importance of mycotoxins in our agricultural products and their attendant implications on the safety of foods and feeds, trade and health cannot be over emphasised. Food and feeds sold in our open markets are neither regulated nor traceable and this has made the zero rejection program of the Federal Government an uphill task.”
“I therefore appeal to all stakeholders including our political leaders to grant the same global attention given to HIV/AIDS in terms of massive education, political support and wide spread sensitisation to mycotoxins in order to ensure availability of safer food and reduction of deaths associated with the diseases related to mycotoxins consumption,” Oluwabamiwo said.
FrieslandCampina WAMCO donates to Benue flood victims
The staffs of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria PLC, makers of Peak and Three Crowns milk have raised funds to help 100 families and 100 school children affected by the recent flood disaster in Benue State. They donated cooking ware and back-to-school supplies to the victims.
FrieslandCampina WAMCO made the donations in conjunction with the Benue State Chapter of the Nigerian Red Cross Society on Saturday.
“Social responsibility transcends momentary relief, and how the affected people will cope when they have returned to their homes is very important,” saidNkechi Ejesi, corporate communication manager during the company’s philanthropic gesture,
“We identified the need for school children who were displaced by the flood to settle-in quickly after resumption – hence our intervention with school supplies like bags, sportswear and stationery. Similarly, we distributed cooking stoves to families whose homes had been submerged in water and as a result of this, were left with little or nothing to survive on,” Ejesi said.
This social investment is sequel to FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s initial donation of 1,500 cartons of Peak Evaporated Milk to the internally displaced persons in Benue State. The products were donated to flood victims through the Office of Social Investment for the Benue State Government.
“Prior to the disaster, FrieslandCampina WAMCO has maintained a long-standing relationship with the state, made evident in our adoption of Government College Makurdi, year-round upkeep of a charity home and our partnership on the Home Grown School Feeding Programme among other things”, the corporate communications manager added.
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