Major boost for Comesa agricultural trade


The Chronicle

business journalist
TRADE in maize, soybean, sorghum and aflatoxin within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region has received a major boost after the trading bloc signed an agreement with an institute US to build product testing capability.

This week, Comesa and a US institute, Texas A&M Agrilife Research, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support mycotoxin risk management involving aflatoxins and fumonisins for commodities and commodities.

Aflatoxins and fumonisins are naturally occurring toxins and are major sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues of concern for trade in the Comesa region.


Comesa Secretary General Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe and Texas A&M Agrilife Director of Research Dr. Cliff Lamb virtually signed the MoU on Monday.

According to a follow-up statement, the implementation of the agreement begins in July with the first rounds of PT tests.

Through the Comesa-AgriLife collaboration, the application of regulatory science will help minimize barriers and build capacity to measure and manage aflatoxin and fumonisin risk.

The region would have limited laboratory testing capacity, competent and qualified laboratory technical staff both in the public sector and in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to accurately measure and manage mycotoxins.

To process a transaction, Comesa traders go through cumbersome procedures to obtain sanitary and phytosanitary measures documents, quality certificates and other documents, the statement read.


To this end, Ms. Kapwepwe said the challenges have contributed to Comesa’s low intra-regional trade and affected the region’s competitiveness in agricultural products in national, regional and international markets.

“The areas of cooperation outlined in the MoU document are highly critical, relevant and timely as they seek to address key challenges that COMESA member states continue to face, particularly on low levels of trade at international levels. regional, continental and global,” she said. .


Dr Lamb described the partnership as a good opportunity to facilitate economic growth in the region.

“For us, engaging in a memorandum of understanding with Comesa will build capacity for all countries in the region and also help Texas A&M Agrilife in multiple ways for global food security and food safety, which is really important to us. “, said Dr. Lamb.

Under the agreement, specific areas of cooperation include a co-regulatory focused regulatory regime for trade in safe basic aflatoxins and fumonisins which include corn, soybeans, sorghum and peanuts and the Aflatoxin Proficiency Testing and Monitoring in Africa (APTECA).

The collaborative initiative began in 2015 when the Comesa Secretariat facilitated the participation of 12 regulatory testing laboratories from six Member States; Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe under the APTECA program, led by Texas A&M Agrilife Research.

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