About Gbemenou Joselin Benoit Gnonlonfin, PhD: Dr Gbemenou Joselin Benoit Gnonlonfin is currently ECOWAS-USAID Senior SPS standards advisor. Prior to this, Dr Gnonlonfin worked for 10 years as research scientist at Benin National Agricultural Research Institute. He has also worked as consultant/expert in the African Union Inter-Bureau on Animal Resources (AU-IBAR)/African Union’s various projects especially on food safety and Codex Alimentarius related matters. I am also Food Safety preventive controls for human food Lead Instructor. He has a vast experience in capacity building, risk assessment and management, and project design and implementation in the field of food safety and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) at large. He is also member of the Joint FAO/WHO Experts on Food Additives and Contaminants (JECFA). He is committee member of the African Society of Mycotoxicology (ASM). He is one of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) developing country experts. Further, he worked as a post-doctoral scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. He holds a master degree in applied microbiology from University of Botswana, and a PhD in food safety from University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Title of the talk: Fungi Diversity and Mycotoxin problem in Africa-perspectives from East-Central-Southern and West Africa”
Abstract: Global warming is creating conditions perfect for fungal proliferation and mycotoxin accumulation in food and feed in Africa. The climate changes scenario including El Nino are factors to be considered. Most of the affected foods are cereal grains and some dried spices which are staple foods in Africa. Thus, the need to focus on fungi and the impact of climate change. Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by fungi that contaminate agricultural commodities pre- or post-harvest. Africa is one of the continents where environmental, agricultural, processing and storage conditions of food commodities are conducive of Aspergillus, Fusarium and Penicillium fungal infection and mycotoxins biosynthesis. Among mycotoxins, aflatoxins have been studied more due to aflatoxicosis outbreaks that have resulted into loss of life of both humans and livestock in Africa. At high doses, aflatoxins can cause acute poisoning and death, and at chronic lower-level doses they can cause liver cancer and chronic immunosuppression. Further, aflatoxins have affected peanut trade in the producing countries in Africa. Significant efforts to reduce aflatoxin in contaminated produce through various strategies have been explored research, academia, and donor community. Some of these control practices are not well known by smallholder farmers. Important pre-and postharvest practices, in addition to the stringent food safety regulations and monitoring, are not undertaken as a result of various factors such as a lack of awareness and training, and the high cost of awareness and sensitization drives. The challenge of controlling aflatoxin contamination persists, and the situation may worsen as a result of climate change. Further, useful and guided prioritization of development activities, continuous awareness creation and training and future research.
Key words: Climate change, fungi, mycobiota, aflatoxins, aflatoxicosis, capacity building