DOUALA and YAOUNDE, CAMEROON – Cocoa output signifies above 8 for each cent of Cameroon’s agricultural output, but exports have been wobbly as a final result of a lack of excellent regulate checks available domestically.
“Without high quality assurance and microbiological tests, the revenue cost is undesirable – and the profits for producers is meagre, ensuing in persistent poverty,” explained Elie Bertrand Mutngi, Director of High-quality and Sustainability at Cameroon’s National Cocoa and Coffee Board.
This is now envisioned to modify, as a nearby company with a very long background of making use of nuclear strategies for screening in the oil and gasoline sector, has started to offer tests for chemical residues and contaminants in cocoa and coffee. The certification they provide, which exporters could attain only from European labs before, is a prerequisite for export to most countries.
HYDRAC, the Douala-dependent greater part point out-owned business, has made use of nuclear methods for non-destructive tests of pipes, building product as effectively as hydrocarbons. It has cooperated with the IAEA considering that 1995, when the want for these exams 1st emerged for the duration of the design of an oil pipeline connecting landlocked Chad with the Cameroonian coast.
Food items protection is a crucial pillar of the government’s 2020-2030 National Development Approach, and it demands food stuff safety programs in position. Furthermore, basic safety and significant-high quality of food are also paramount in get for the country to increase its exports. It is in assist of this plan that HYDRAC has made a decision to diversify into meals tests, reported David Ekoume, the company’s Director Standard. Products such as cocoa and coffee at times comprise pesticide residues and other contaminants higher than protection restrictions set up by the European Union and other import marketplaces.
The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme and in partnership with the Food items and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, has helped practice 7 analytical chemists and managers in the use of nuclear and nuclear-dependent analytical procedures in food stuff protection and has supported the lab with devices together with an atomic absorption spectrometer, a gas chromatograph coupled with a mass spectrometer as properly as radio receptor assay software kits to perform appropriate assessments (see The Science box).
“Previously a great deal of the country’s cocoa and espresso exports ended up rejected by importers or could only be bought locally at decrease prices, thanks to lack of screening,” Ekoume mentioned. “This is accurate also for other agricultural exports such as banana and pineapples. We are thus doing work to get accreditation as a standard foodstuff safety lab.”
As of this 12 months, the lab is able to check for mycotoxins, pesticide residues, harmful metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which arise in a natural way in oil and can contaminate food items, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a very carcinogenic substance formerly made use of in industrial and client items. The extension of ISO accreditation for HYDRAC’s lab from cocoa and coffee to foods in typical is underneath way and should be concluded this yr, in August 2022, Ekouma claimed.