By Yaw Ansah, GNA
Accra, July 3, GNA - The Middle Zone Women Farmers in Ghana have urged government to subsidise Aflasafe, a technology developed to help reduce high rates of aflatoxins in cereals.
Just like the inputs subvention, under the planting for food and jobs initiative, they say such a move would reduce the current cost of GH¢32.00 per four kilos and would be delivered at doorsteps of farmers.
Aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens that are produced by certain molds, which grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains.
Madam Gladys Serwaa Adusah, the Leader of the Middle Zone Women Farmers, made the suggestion at the opening of a two-day workshop in Ghana on Research Dissemination and Agenda Setting for National Policy for Aflatoxin Control in Food and Feed.
The forum, which brought together actors in the agriculture value chain, including farmers, aggregators, processors, development partners, scientists and researches, would be used to share findings of a situational analysis and discuss issues of policy relevance.
It forms part of a project to develop a national policy and technical regulation for aflatoxin control in food being coordinated by the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Madam Adusah said the subsidized price would enable women farmers to have access at a good price to produce cereals, including groundnuts and maize, to contribute to sufficient and aflatoxin free food.
“The World Health Organisation came to Techiman to conduct a study on aflatoxins and they discovered that majority of our maize had high levels of aflatoxins,” she said.
“This is a big problem for us the women because aside farming we trade in these commodities so it will help if the government heed to our call.”
Dr Rose Omari, Project Coordinator CSIR-STEPRI, said a recent study found high levels of aflatoxin in food and feed in Ghana and other countries in West Africa.
She said the study revealed a prevalence of aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts in major producing regions across three agro-ecological zones in Ghana.
Healthwise, she said studies had also shown that exposure to very high levels of aflatoxin could results in acute health effects such as aflatoxicosis, adding that it could cause symptoms including haemorrhage, acute liver damage and abdominal pains.
She stated that chronic exposure to aflatoxins was linked to decreased protein synthesis, delayed recovery from kwashiorkor, immune suppression, and increased susceptibility to infections, growth retardation and stunting in children.
Dr Omari said although aflatoxin was real there were measures including the adherence of good agriculture practices that could help control the levels of aflatoxins.