MESTI advances aflatoxin control with stakeholder workshop


The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) has launched a sensitisation workshop to raise public awareness and encourage stakeholder participation in implementation of the National Policy for Aflatoxin Control in Food and Feed.

This workshop, held in Accra, follows the policy’s launch in October 2022 and underscores its critical role in safeguarding human and animal health while boosting incomes of those involved in the food value chain.

The Director of Science, Technology and Innovation at MESTI, Mr. Kwamina Ato Quaison, addressing participants at the workshop emphasised the policy’s objectives. “The National Policy goal for Aflatoxin Control in Food and Feed is to protect human and animal health and increase the income of food value-chain actors by reducing aflatoxin contamination,” he stated.

“This policy aims to mitigate foodborne diseases, enhance food security and support the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals – including No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-being.”

Aflatoxins – toxic compounds produced by certain moulds found in food – pose significant risks to health, causing liver damage and cancer upon ingestion. These toxins also compromise food safety, nutrition security and economic stability.

In Ghana, food insecurity and malnutrition affect a substantial portion of the population, with children being particularly vulnerable.

“Factors such as high temperature, high humidity and poor hygienic practices often lead to mould infections and subsequent aflatoxin production,” Mr. Quaison explained.

“Ghana loses approximately 18 percent of its maize annually to aflatoxin contamination.” To address these challenges, MESTI collaborated with the Ministries of Food and Agriculture; Trade and Industry; and Health – alongside the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-STEPRI) and other stakeholders to develop the National Policy for Aflatoxin Control.

The policy includes an implementation plan that involves creating public awareness and integrating preventive actions into annual work plans.

“This workshop is timely as it coincides with World Food Safety Day,” Mr. Quaison noted. “This year’s theme, ‘Food safety – prepare for the unexpected’, aligns perfectly with our efforts to enhance knowledge and skills for the prevention and management of food safety risks.”

Mr. Quaison highlighted the importance of continuous public education and awareness creation on the harmful effects of aflatoxins. “This sensitisation workshop will not be the last of its kind. It is part of an ongoing effort by the Ministry to ensure food safety and prosperity for all,” he assured.

He called on policymakers, regulators, farmers, food business operators, consumers and the media to actively participate in implementing the policy to achieve its objectives, including increased compliance with food safety standards and regulations.

The workshop marks a significant step toward combatting aflatoxin contamination in Ghana, aiming to foster a safer, healthier and more prosperous food system.

A member of the National Steering Committee for Aflatoxin Control (NSCAC), Mrs. Emily Afaribea Boahen, affirmed that “this workshop aligns with our terms of reference as it provides a platform for raising awareness about the policy, highlighting the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and forging partnerships to ensure successful implementation of the policy”.

She commended MESTI for investing its resources into this valuable workshop, and encouraged other institutions – especially the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Trade and Industry and other members of the National Steering Committee – to emulate it.

She said the National Steering Committee will continue to push for implementation of the aflatoxin policy “to ensure that we achieve its objectives of increasing public awareness, advocacy, communication and demand for aflatoxin-safe food and feed, as well as increasing domestic and international trade in aflatoxin-safe products”.

“Several strategies have been proposed in the policy, such that everyone including consumers, the media, farmers, traders, food processors, regulatory institutions, researchers and academia can play a role,” she added.

Given this, she called on all stakeholders to commit some resources into implementing different aspects of the policy. Doing this, she said, will improve the safety of food and hence protect the country from harmful effects of aflatoxins and other food safety hazards.

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