Men who consume high contents of aflatoxin in maize, sorghum, millet and groundnuts have high risk of male sterility and liver cancers, says Professor Richard Tuyee Awuah, of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Aflatoxins are potent carcinogens produced by the fungus aspergillus flavus and several other related species, which are common in warm and humid environment.
Prof Awuah, who is at the Department of Crop Science and Soil Sciences at the KNUST, said women who consume high contents of aflatoxin also expose themselves to several female reproductive problems.
Research and field demonstrations show that maize, groundnuts, millet and sorghum produced by farmers in the country contained high aflatoxins.
Speaking at the opening session of a business forum in Techiman in the Bono East Region, Prof Awuah said corn dough contains high contents of aflatoxin, hence the need to minimise consumption of “kenkey” to save lives.
Organised by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and attended by buyers and producers of grains, the forum sought to share results of 2018 field demonstrations with agribusinesses, using Aflasafe, on target crops in major producing regions in the country.
Aflasafe GH02 is a bio-control product that drastically reduces aflatoxin contamination in maize, groundnuts and sorghum.
Over the years, the IITA and the United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) in partnership with the KNUST and other national partners have developed and extensively tested and demonstrated the value for Aflasafe.
Prof Awuah said aflatoxins have tremendous impact on human and animal health, most importantly, well-known as liver toxicants, affecting liver function which, with chronic exposure, might lead to liver cancers.
Acute exposure to aflatoxins could result in outright death, he said, saying some of these health complications had been reported in the country.
Prof Awuah regretted that although very deadly, a good majority of Ghanaians were unaware of aflatoxins as the level of awareness remains low and called on the media to help intensify public education.
He expressed worry that the country lacked a robust and well-developed regulatory and monitoring framework for aflatoxins and their contamination of human and animal foods, and called on the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade to incorporate aflatoxin issues into their development policies, if they were not already doing so.
Dr Daniel Agbetiameh, the Technical Consultant, Aflase Technology, Transfer and Commercialization Programme of the ITTA, said high contamination of aflatoxin in food killed 18 people in Tanzania last year and 10 people in Kenya in 2010.
He advised farmers to apply the Aflasafe GH02 on their farms to produce quality grains and avoidable deaths among the people.
Being imported from neighbouring Nigeria, Aflasafe is an aflatoxin mitigation strategy that targets and eliminates the source of infection and contamination, which is the aflatoxin producing fungi.
Studies show that together with best agricultural practices and proper post-harvesting interventions, the use of aflasafe allows the production of maize, groundnuts and sorghum that are compliant with both domestic and international regulatory standards.