An advocacy programme to educate rural farmers on aflatoxin has been launched with a commitment from government to continue its support to women farmers to enhance their livelihood through its poverty eradication programme.

?We need to also create a safe natural biological method of eliminating aflatoxin contamination of food crops to make our maize wholesome for consumption,? Mr. Amoako Adams, Techiman Municipal Deputy Coordinating Director, said at a day?s launching of afflatozin in maize project in Techiman.

The launch was organized by Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD) in partnership with SEND-GHANA and Southern Africa Trust under the theme: ?Creating linkages between research, advocacy and the media of the afflatozin maize project?.

The launch brought together over 200 farmers including Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) directors drawn from Nkoranza, Ejura-Sekyere, Dumase and Techiman being the larger maize growing areas in Brong Ahafo.

The project, being implemented in Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda, has a financial support from Southern Africa Trust through Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In Ghana, the project is initiated by SEND Ghana, a non-governmental orgnaisation. The Ghana News Agency, Public Agenda, Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD), Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), Food Research Institute and the Water Research Institute are part of the organizations helping to address Aflatoxin in maize in Techiman and high cyanide and arsenic concentration in water in the Wassa Akropong.

Aflatoxins are chemical poisons produced mainly by the fungus Aspergillus flavus in maize, groundnuts, cassava, and yam chips. These toxins are also potent causes of cancer and suppress the immune system causing humans and animals to be more susceptible to diseases.

Mr Adams indicated that government cherished the efforts of farmers in the agricultural sector and assured that with the formation of viable groups, government would link them with banks for credit facilities under the Livelihood Employment Alternative Programme (LEAP) to increase food production for domestic consumption and export.

Dr. King David Amoah, National President of Farmer?s Organization Network (FONG) and President of ECASARD, revealed that more farmers? organisations such as the Ghana National Farmers Association, FONG, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, and the Ghana Federation of Agricultural Producers had been networked to help educate maize farmers on aflatoxin disease.

Ms Sandra Kwabea Sarkwah, Field Officer of SEND-Ghana, said in line with comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Policy (CAADP), Ghana in 2009 signed the Regional Agricultural Policy for West Africa (ECOWAP/CAAdP) Compact to support successful implementation of its food and agriculture sector development policy.

She said it was aimed among other things to implement the medium term agriculture sector investment plan initiated in 2011-2015 that would target agriculture Gross Domestic Product growth of at least six per cent in maize production against afflatoxin in most farming communities.

Mr George A. A. Anyebuno, Research Scientist of the Food Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on the topic ?Aflatoxin?, noted that maize smut was toxic poison and was harmful to the body and urged farmers to help reduce the occurrences in a bid to remove the smut in the maize and dry it properly.

The Techiman Municipal Director of Agriculture, Mr Effa Takyi said the misuse of agro-chemicals led to many ailments such as cancer found in maize as a result of aflatoxin and appealed to farmers to consult MOFA?s staff for education.

Nana Ankoma Frimpong II, Twumiahene and Sanaahene of Techiman Traditional Area, who presided, called on the government to re-introduce demonstration agricultural farms as practical for the youth to take agriculture as it was not a punishment.


Source: GNA



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