Many groundnut farmers in the Upper West Region are ignorant about food laws, and are also having little knowledge about the functions of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority.
Several of them did not know that the small quantities of grounds that they sell to traders out of what they had produced for domestic consumption were being exported in large quantities to other countries in the world.
The farmers, however, have appreciable understanding levels of aflatoxins and are able to detect aflatoxin in groundnuts through the bitterness in taste.
They, however, did not have in-depth knowledge about the impact of aflatoxin in production and marketing, as well as its ingestion in humans, known to cause cancer and liver diseases, immune-system suppression and stunted growth in children.
These concerns were made known at a Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling Programme (TRAQUE) capacity-building workshop organized for export-oriented value chain operators of groundnuts and cereal products in Nadowli.
The 54 farmers, drawn from the Nadowli District were taken through European Union general food law, Good agricultural practices pre-harvest operations, Post-harvest operations, Quality assurance and management, Hazards in groundnut supply chain and Processing and utilization of groundnut.
They were also taken through field practical session, including pre-harvest operations, selection of good site and seeds, on-farm practices, off-farm practices and quality and assurance and risk management, among others.
Mr Edmond K. Suglo, a Consultant to TRAQUE, said the crop had food safety and quality concerns along the groundnut value chain, and consumers had raised concerns about contamination on groundnuts by other materials that were not groundnuts.
He mentioned stones, sand, nails and other foreign materials as some of the materials which could be seen physically in groundnuts.
Chemical contamination such as pesticide, fuel products and biological products, which have living organisms are some of the products found in groundnuts.
Mr Suglo said scientists had proven that aflatoxins had negative impact on livestock, causing decrease in milk and egg production in poultry.
He said the impact of aflatoxin contamination along the food chain was a significant threat to trade, food security and livelihoods.
The training was, therefore, to get the farmers have an idea of the aflatoxin and to determine at which critical stage in the value chain that aflatoxin could occur and build the capacity on measures to take to help minimize the aflatoxin contamination.
The TRAQUE Consultant said the main importer of Ghana?s groundnuts was the EU, which had set high standards for the operators in the groundnut value chain, to help reduce the incidence of aflatoxin in groundnuts.
?This should be a welcoming news to all because it is not only helping to promote trade, but also improving the health of consumers of groundnut product,? he explained.
Mrs Adwowa A. Ammah-Tagoe, Head of Training at the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), said GEPA was working hard with other state organisations such as the Ghana Standards Authority, Environmental Protection Authority, Water Resource Commission, Food and Drugs Authority, District Assemblies and Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate to reduce the incidence of aflatoxin in groundnuts.
She encouraged the farmers to be agents of change and embrace the best practices taught them and also train other farmers in the communities to adopt the skills and knowledge they had acquired from the workshop to reduce aflatoxin in groundnuts.
Mr Martin Kogti, Zonal Officer at GEPA responsible for Upper West and Upper East Regions, disclosed that Nadowli, Jirapa, Lawra, Sissala West and Sissala East Districts in the Upper West Region had been selected to benefit from the training.
In the Upper East Region, Kassena-Nankana, and Kassena-Nankan West, Builsa and Builsa South, and Garu Tempani Districts were also chosen to benefit from the project.
He said the districts were selected based on groundnut production figures received from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which indicated that those districts have high potential of groundnut production.
The EU-funded 18-month Project under TRAQUE ?Support to GEPA in the areas of export quality management and market information for selected agricultural products would end this year.