Kenya bans Uganda, Tanzania maize imports citing aflatoxins

Kenya has stopped with immediate effect the importation of maize from Uganda and Tanzania saying latest test results have consistently shown high levels of aflatoxins.

The Agriculture and Food Authority has said surveillance on imported maize from the neighboring countries has revealed high levels of mycotoxins that are beyond limits adding that over the years a number of chronic aflatoxin illnesses have been recorded in Kenya including deaths.

The ban on maize imports comes into force barely a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta took over the chairmanship of the East African Community (EAC) with a pledge to strengthen trade in the bloc.

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“Mycotoxins, particularly aflatoxins and fumonisins are known to be carcinogenic,” said the authority.

Exposure to mycotoxins needs to be kept as low as possible to protect people. Mycotoxins not only pose a risk to both human and animal health, but also impact food security and nutrition by reducing people’s access to healthy food.

The ban, which shall be enforced by the Kenya Revenue Authority, is expected to hit Ugandan farmers hard given that Kenya has been a top export destination for their grain.

According to data from Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, the volume of imported maize increased by 418 per cent to 523,000 bags from 101,000 recorded in January 2020.

Uganda and Tanzania remains key trade partners in the EAC market. A report from the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group East Africa Cross Border Trade says Kenya imported 44,740 metric tonnes of white maize from her neighbors in the second quarter of 2020 with 58 and 39 per cent of the grain coming from Uganda and Tanzania respectively.

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