On June 12th, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research and Peanut Productivity and Mycotoxin Control (Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab, PMIL) hosted a successful workshop on “Priorities for Addressing Mycotoxins in Haiti” in Port au Prince, Haiti. Over 40 participants attended, including members of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development (MARNDR), local government and private sector representatives, Haitian scientists, and members of the PMIL research team, as well as in-country collaborators.

Following opening remarks by Dave Hoisington (PMIL Director), Julia Kennedy (USAID/Haiti) and Vern Long (USAID/Washington), two presentations by Jamie Rhoads (PMIL Assistant Director) and Dan Brown (Cornell University) focused on what is the known about the health, safety and economic development risks associated with mycotoxins, especially regarding the status in Haiti.

Following these presentations, an invited panel of public and private sector participants briefly presented their thoughts on the priorities to address mycotoxins in Haiti. Panelists included Lemane Delva (FAMV, the state agriculture university), Jean Marc Ewald (PISA/REBO, a commercial peanut butter producer), Jagger Harvey (Biosciences East and Central Africa, a regional lab of excellence in Nairobi, Kenya), Rob Johnson (Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation) and Dan Brown.

In the open discussion that followed, involving all participants, there was strong concern and demand for options for alternative uses for the contaminated peanuts and other commodities, such as expressing for oil, livestock feed, or fuel. While feasible methods do exist to remove and detect contaminated commodities, without a viable alternative use of the discards, there would be little incentive for farmers, sellers, nor buyers to implement proper procedures uniformly. In a competitive, food-insecure market, this also presents a risk of concentrating highly contaminated discards into foods consumed by more vulnerable, less aware populations.

Other topics discussed included the need for more research on adoptable post-harvest technologies, on other mycotoxins than just aflatoxin (e.g., ochratoxin in sorghum), on what is the total dietary load of mycotoxins in a typical Haitian diet, and on creating more awareness of the problem and the possible solutions.

Several participants asked, “Is it safe to continue eating peanut butter produced in Haiti?” While the resounding answer was “yes,” all participants agreed that more research and education was needed to protect consumers and producers.

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