Recommendations of a policy brief put together by three organisations in the agricultural and health sectors have made a strong case for the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Health and the Grains Development Board, to as a matter of importance, “recognize exposure to aflatoxins as a major public issue”.

SEND-GHANA, the Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSRI) and the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD), say the level of aflatoxins in 66 out of 202 maize samples analysed is above the national permissible levels.

Aflatoxins are toxics produced by a particular type of fungi and they are found in maize, groundnuts, cassava and yam chips.

According to a policy brief launched by the three organisations on Wednesday June 5, these toxins are potent causes of cancer and suppress the immune system causing humans and animals to be more susceptible to diseases.

Due to the effect of aflatoxins on the health of humans, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA)has set a maximum aflatoxin total of 15ug/kg for maize.

The communiqué issued by the institutions state “aflatoxins have been found in maize and maize products, peanut and peanut products and many other food commodities over the years in Ghana and the Techiman Municipality in particular”.

The three institutions are also calling on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to provide mechanical driers to ensure quick and effective drying of food crops.

SEND-GHANA, FRI and ECASARD say the District Directorates of Agriculture must collaborate with Grain West Africa (GWA) and other private sector organisations to provide storage infrastructure with the requisite conditions to prevent contamination and eliminate or reduce physical damage to grains during shelling.

They say the GWA has the capacity to purchase, store and sell commercial quality maize from Ghanaian farmers by providing innovative storage management of grains from the local market with the utilisation of silo bag technology.

The policy briefing, which was made possible through partnership with Southern Africa Trust, also recommends the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of Trade should increase funding to the FRI to support research to control aflatoxin contamination of food crops in Ghana.