Kenyan authorities have stopped all maize imports into the country with immediate effect, saying tests on the grain from two neighboring nations (Uganda and Tanzania) revealed high levels of mycotoxins.
The results of tests conducted on maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania showed toxin levels that were “consistently beyond safety limits,” according to a statement by the Agriculture and Food Authority. “Mycotoxins, particularly aflatoxins and fumonisins, are known to be carcinogenic.”
“We wish to bring to your attention that Agriculture and Food Authority has stopped any further imports of the maize into Kenya with immediate effect,” said a letter from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by certain types of moulds (fungi). Moulds that can produce mycotoxins grow on numerous foodstuffs such as cereals, dried fruits, nuts and spices. Mould growth can occur either before harvest or after harvest, during storage, on/in the food itself often under warm, damp and humid conditions. Most mycotoxins are chemically stable and survive food processing.
The effects of some food-borne mycotoxins are acute with symptoms of severe illness appearing quickly after consumption of food products contaminated with mycotoxins. Other mycotoxins occurring in food have been linked to long-term effects on health, including the induction of cancers and immune deficiency.
Kenyans, however, feel the move is aimed at favouring some “powerful individuals who might imported their own maize and want to sell within the country.
While in Longido District today, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bashe said the Government of Tanzania is taking the ban of maize imports seriously.
“The government is closely monitoring the ban and I can assure business people and the general public that the government will continue to protect its interests,” Bashe said.
Long queues of trucks were on Saturday seen at the Namangaborder after the Kenya Revenue authority reportedly denied the trucks entry into Kenya.