Innovations in food trade: rethinking aflatoxin management in East Africa

The high prevalence of aflatoxins in maize and other staple foods in the EAC has become an important obstacle to domestic and regional food trade. While EAC Member States have made good progress in promulgating regionally harmonized standards that include mandatory upper limits on aflatoxins, the high cost and complexity of meeting these standards has led to a large share of food being traded outside the regulatory framework thereby distancing poor producers from the market and undermining the prospects for regional value chain development. Especially as EAC countries look to recover from COVID-19 (coronavirus) and build resilient food systems for the future, minimizing the cost of market transactions is more important than ever. The need for aflatoxin management begins at the farm level where fundamental challenges with smallholder agriculture make crops highly susceptible to contamination.