As the harvesting season approaches in most parts of the country, farmers have been advised to enhance proper post harvest handling and use appropriate storage technologies available to avoid spreading cancer-causing cells through Aflatoxins to food consumers.
Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts that are not properly dried and an increased exposure to the same can cause liver cancer.
It is a by-product of mould that can cause DNA damage. With prolonged exposure to aflatoxin, cells accumulate DNA mutations and thus are at an increased risk of developing into cancer cells.
The main fungi that produce aflatoxins are Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which are abundant in warm and humid regions of the world.
Aflatoxin-producing fungi can contaminate crops in the field, at harvest, and during storage.
People get exposed to Aflatoxins by eating contaminated plant products (such as peanuts) or by consuming meat or dairy products from animals that ate contaminated feed.
Farmers and other agricultural workers may also be exposed by inhaling dust generated during the handling and processing of contaminated crops and feeds.
Aflatoxins affect the economic system of health, trade, nutrition and agriculture in the region and across commodities, value chains among trading partners in neighbouring countries i.e Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
In the recently concluded WESTERN FIELD DAY AND AGRIBUSINESS EXPO held at Shitungu Farm in Lurambi sub-county of Kakamega County, awareness and emphasis on Aflatoxin prevention and control were highlighted by Eastern Africa Grain Council who were present at the expo.
The event attracted farmers, producer organizations, research organizations, the private sector, academia, development partners, county government officials, government agencies among others, so to it that all benefit with the knowledge to avoid the deadly toxins that are claiming lives in the continent.
The CEO of Green Without Borders(GWB), who organized the expo in collaboration with East Africa farmers federation, Andrew Egalla encouraged those in attendance especially farmers to be careful as we approach the harvesting period. He advised them to enhance proper post harvest handling and use appropriate storage technologies available to avoid the cancer-causing toxins.