By Aisha Tamba
The Gambia Standards Bureau in collaboration with Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) and Consumer Protection Association in the Gambia (CPAG) recently held a one-day training for the members of the Consumer Association and Journalists, on Codex and Standardisation on Aflatoxin, at its Bureau in Fajara.
Aflatoxins are highly toxic metabolites that affect the safety of food and feed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including The Gambia.
They are mainly produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus fungi that reside in soil which are important in health and agriculture.
The regions prone to the menace are the North Bank, Central River Region, Southern Region and Upper River–South regions according to samples recorded by PACA 100% of the positive samples are contained with aflatoxin B. According to Value Per Statistical (VSL), the annual economic impact of the 160 liver cancer cases was estimated to be as high as US$ 22.5 million.
Speaking at the opening, Mattar John of the Consumer Protection Association in the Gambia (CPAG), thanked the Standards Bureau for their supportive role in their quest to collaborate with stakeholders to promote the rights of the consumers in the country.
He said in May 2018, CPAG secured funding worth 10,000(equivalent to D500,000) to implement a project on “the education and awareness on the prevalence and the dangers of aflatoxin, with the object of conducting training, focused group discussions on aflatoxin in sensitive foods in the country, awareness raising seminar with the University of The Gambia, awareness raising seminar with National Agricultural Research Institute, a dialogue session with stakeholders on the aflatoxin issues.”
Ndey Naffie Ceesay, PACA Country Officer, said PACA is an AUC flagship project that is currently running in 6 countries, with the ultimate of working with the ministries of trade, agriculture and health with a view to mitigating the cross cutting issues regarding aflatoxin, noting that the menace degrades the quality of crop, affects trade and health, causing liver cancer, stunted growth, malnutrition among others.
The Director of the Standards Bureau, Papa Secka , highlighted the numerous contributions made by CPAG in putting place key structures and laws to the attainment of quality food standards, among them their contribution in the construction of the Standards Bureau, ensuring that there is Consumer Act in the country and quality policy after its numerous advocacy programs.
All these efforts, according to Mr. Secka manifest the significant roles of the consumers and their roles in standards development, as well to further the promotion of an overall quality in The Gambia.
The main purpose of The Gambia Standards Bureau (TGSB) is to standardise methods, processes and products (both imported and locally produced). It promotes standardisation, conformity assessment and metrology in the fields of industry and commerce to support industrial efficiency and development. Additionally, it disseminates and promotes standards for public welfare, health and safety.