ICRISAT ups Campaign on Dangers of Aflatoxin in Groundnut and other Crops as WOFAN pledges to join other stakeholders to step down at community level and to the general public. In order to enhance farmers’ and consumers’ knowledge on the health and economic challenges posed by aflatoxin contamination in foods and feeds,
the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has upped the campaign on dangers of aflatoxin in groundnut and other crops at the WOFAN Centre Kano for professionals, researchers, academicians, development partners and various Agric and rural development agencies across Nigeria. The campaign/ training which emphasized that Aflatoxins are some of the most potent toxic substances found in foods and feeds are produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Heavy and sustained consumption of Aflatoxin contaminated food can cause severe illnesses such as cancer and liver sclerosis and this is worrisome as the awareness level is low worldwide says” Motunga a scientist with ICRISAT Kano during his presentation.
ICRISAT which is taking the lead in this campaign is partnering the multi stakeholders such as Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN), Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR)-ZARIA, Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Centre for Dry land Agriculture, Bayero University(BUK), Kano (CDA/BUK), Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM), Green Sahel Agricultural and Rural Development Initiative (GSARDI)-JIGAWA, Catholic Relief Services (CRS-SOKOTO and the Agricultural and Rural Development Authorities (ADPs )of Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa and Sokoto states.
Speaking earlier in her opening remarks, WOFAN’s Executive Director (ED), Hajia Salamatu Garba had stressed the urgent need to collaborate with other stakeholders particularly the media to sensitize farmers ,communities and the general public on the dangers of aflatoxin contamination in groundnut and groundnut-based products to the health and economic development of the general public targeting both producers and consumers.
She said, “We have to get information to farmers and all stakeholders in the value chain to counter the menace of aflatoxin. Farmers often use immature and infected groundnut as add-weight. This may be because they don’t know the health implications of what they are doing. They have to be properly educated by all the participants in this training, journalists and all, if we must make progress against aflatoxin.’
Speaking in the same vein, the project’s Senior Project Manager- (Ghana, Mali and Nigeria), Mr Hippolyte Affognon said it was important to get information out to farmers and processors on the health and economic dangers and effects of aflatoxin Contamination
While the Nigeria Country Manager, Dr. Michael Vabi, also reiterated these remarks, stressing that by spreading the key messages on aflatoxin contamination and management, participants will be helping to increase consumption and eventual export of groundnut.
At this ToT workshop participants discussed the science of aflatoxin; how it contaminates the soil and crops; detection and management; and healtheconomic challenges of aflatoxin contamination.
Speaking at the end of the ToT, participants described the session as an eye opener on aflatoxins. They pledged to spread the campaign on the dangers of aflatoxin contamination so that farmers and consumers can manage the production and processing of groundnut to eliminate the toxin.
One of the participants, Hajia Hafsat Ibrahim disclosed ‘I used to eat the immature nuts because they are sweet. But with what I have learnt today, I know they should be avoided. I will start sharing this and other information I have acquired from this training with farmers and other members of my community to reduce the risks posed by aflatoxin contamination’, she said.
The Groundnut scale-up project is funded by USAID in Ghana, Mali and Nigeria and it is being implemented through International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Nigeria with the above stated stakeholders
WOFAN has tightened up its belts to commence intensive campaign to great more awareness on the dangers of this fungus found from seed to consumption level if not properly managed and high dosage of it on humans and livestock is hazardous to public health
WOMEN FARMERS ADVANCEMENT NETWORK.