Introduction

International trade of agricultural commodities, especially of high-value food products, has expanded substantially over the last decades. For example Kenya's horticultural exports

© CAB International 2008. Mycotoxins: Detection Methods, Management, Public Health - 67 -and Agricultural Trade (eds. J. F. Leslie et al.).

have grown by > 6% per year since the mid-1970s to become the country's third largest source of foreign exchange (IFPRI, 2004). The explanation is that the world trade environment is no longer dominated by bulk non-processed products but is diversifying to include more processed high-value products, which doubled as a share of world agricultural trade between 1980 and 1998 (IFPRI, 2004). Production and policy incentives, lower per unit transport costs, and advances in agricultural and post-harvest technologies also have increased agricultural exports. However, processed products face stringent requirements for norms and standards, mainly sanitary and phytosanitary standards and other trade barriers, which may limit access to international markets.

The complicated trade environment and complying with norms and standards are major challenges for African countries. Standards for aflatoxin contamination in agricultural commodities threaten the competitiveness and the profitability of African exports. The allowable contamination level varies based on commodity, geographic destination and intended use (Williams et al., 2004). Standards for human foods in most countries, for example, range between 4 and 20 ng/g, although a few have limits as low as 1 ng/g and a few others permit more than 30 ng/g (FAO, 2004). Meeting these standards and paying the cost of compliance are prerequisites for access to international markets.

In this chapter we analyze the environment facing Sub-Saharan Africa as an exporter of high-value food and agricultural products to the European Union, the United States and other developed countries. We focus on the problems associated with aflatoxin contamination in terms of incidence and economic consequences in developing countries.

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