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Economic impact of aflatoxin contamination in SubSaharan Africa
Leslie, John F.
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Globalization, including new international tr ade standards and regulations, has placed sig- nificant constraints on competitiveness in a nd access to international markets for develop- ing countries, especially those in Sub-Sahara n Africa. Agricultural commodities from these regions must overcome problems ranging from lower productivity and product quality to higher per unit transportation costs, and lo wer capacity to manage product flow from sup- pliers to end-users (value chain management). The competitiveness of African commodities also is impeded by poor policy and institutional en vironments that result in high transaction costs. One factor reducing African agricultu ral commodity competitiveness for export is aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxin lowers product quality and discounts export values, which may lead to significant economic losses for the countries and the agents in commodi- ty value chains. Losses from rejected export sh ipments and lower prices due to poor quality may exceed 100% if the product is destroyed a nd the exporter is paying for the shipping. Negative impacts on human health and househol d include mortality, loss of productivity and reduced income due to lower productive capacity, and related health costs. In this con- text, the cost of complying with food safety and agricultural health standards has been a major source of concern in the international development community and for African econ- omies, but without increased food quality, ne ither competitiveness nor more revenue from exports will result. We address the problem of access of African commodities to interna- tional markets by recommending an increase in public awareness of the costs and ill effects incurred due to mycotoxins, and the diffusion of aflatoxin control technology and related capacity building to improve food quality in Sub-Saharan Africa. We also recommend strengthening the capacity for conducting im pact assessments and collecting the data needed to make optimal decisions amongst possible aflatoxin control measures.