The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has trained agriculture extension officers in the Central Region on the dangers and management of aflatoxins – natural poisons produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus and several other related species in food items.
The exercise dubbed, trainer of trainers, saw 50 agriculture extension officers benefit from training on aflatoxins management in food items such as maize, groundnut, sorghum and rice, among others.
The extension officers who were taken through various topics like how to prevent and manage aflatoxins and its implications on health and income of farmers, will now work with farmers in the various municipal and district assemblies across the region to combat the menace.
Derry Dontoh, Head of Histamine and Mycotoxins Lab at GSA led the discussions on Aflatoxins management after which Nathaniel Brako, Scientific Officer with the GSA, presented on Aflatoxin standards.
The team also embarked on community tours in the Central Region with visits to Kwaprow, Elmina, Mankessim, Kissi and Brabedzi where they had interactions with over 250 farmers who mainly grow cereals and grains. The education on aflatoxins continues to be an eye opener for everyone in its value chain.
According to studies, adverse effect of aflatoxins in humans ranges from acute hepatic toxicity to chronic disease such as liver cancer, haemorrhages, oedema, and even immediate death.
The highly toxic fungi infection also slows growth in children, weakens the body immune system to fight diseases.
Apart from this, it also impacts negatively on the incomes of farmers, since food items contaminated with aflatoxins can not be sold or consumed.