The Ghanaian Times is ready to collaborate with the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) in their sensitisation campaign on aflatoxins in the country.
The Editor of the Ghanaian Times, Dave Agbenu gave the assurance when a six-member delegation led by the Head of Public Relations of the GSA, Peter Martey Agbeko, paid a courtesy call on him yesterday to solicit the paper’s support for the campaign.
Mr Agbenu said, “We have accepted that challenge because we provide public service and we were established to help the agenda of the government and if there was the need to propagate something that is in the public interest, we will do it.”
He said there was the need for the media to have enough information from the stakeholders because some of the “terms used” were unfamiliar to journalists as well as many Ghanaians, so as not to misinform the public.
“We need a lot of information and education to succeed in this campaign,” he said adding aflatoxins affected everyone because of the food commonly eaten by Ghanaians which were mainly from maize and grains.
According to the Editor, the media was the largest platform to educate the people and urged them to make themselves available and be ready to share information on aflatoxins.
Mr Agbeko said aflatoxins largely constitute a menace not just for public health, but also an economic issue.
He said the mandate of the authority was consumer protection and trade facilitation, adding that, at the trade level the GSA had been receiving alerts on the high level of aflatoxins produced and exported which were over the threshold allowed leading to the destruction of the produce.
This, he said was at a cost to the local farmer who was already challenged and explained that aflatoxins were bi-products of a naturally produce farmland and it is in the soil which affects the staple crops and contaminates meat and meat products.
Mr Agbeko said the aim of the visit was to engage the media not only as conduit but as channels through which their messages would get to the public.
A Business Development Officer at GSA, Ruth Alando said, common crops affected by aflatoxin were maize and groundnut and these crops were mainly eaten daily in Ghana.
She said aflatoxins could be destroyed at a very high temperature which may result in burning the food.
She therefore called for the support of Ghanaians to help break the cycle of aflatoxin which most often results in the rejection of food exports which was at a huge cost to the exporter.
Ms Alando indicated that there was no means by which aflatoxins could be determined by just looking at the crop but rather through a test in the laboratory.
Among the delegation was Ms Sally Adjetey from International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITU), a programme officer, Policy and Advocacy, AGRA Dr Dorothy Anima Effa, Business Development Officer at GSA Lester Edward Nyarko and Alex Osei Boateng.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU