Data for estimating the economic impact of aflatoxin

Estimating the economic impact of aflatoxins requires good data sets and expertise in the use of various economic impact assessment models. Both of these prerequisites generally are missing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Data are needed on the effects and related costs of aflatoxin contamination on human health. Cost elements include mortality, i.e., the cost of productive capacity lost with premature death and the cost of morbidity, i.e., losses resulting from productivity loss, hospitalization and the costs of health care services both public and private. Finally, there is the intangible cost of pain, suffering, anxiety, and reduction in the quality of life (Lubulwa and Davis, 1994). The data on the economic impact of aflatoxin on livestock should include income losses due to mortality as well as those due to reductions in productivity, weight gain, and the yield of meat, milk and eggs, as well as those due to feed use inefficiency and increased susceptibility to disease.

Even trade data are difficult to obtain. The trade data used in the gravity model by Otsuki et al. (2001a,b) to establish the baseline put African exports to the European Union (in 1998) at US$ 472 million for dried fruit and nuts and US$ 298 million for cereals, with the bulk of this trade occurring with France. These figures seem implausible, especially for cereals, given Africa's lack of competitiveness in this sector relative to Europe, and statistics from the United Nations COMTRADE database show that European imports from Africa were not this large. In 1998, for example, Africa exported to Europe approximately US$ 104 million of dried fruit, US$ 45 million of peanuts, US$ 27 million for other edible nuts, and < US$ 14 million for cereals and cereal products. Thus, the baseline against which economic impacts should be defined is at best fuzzy and often lacking (Jaffe and Henson, 2004).

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