The Mexican Government is partnering with the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) to introduce Nixtamalisation technology in Ghana to reduce levels of aflatoxin in maize.
The technology is an ancient Mexican skill for processing white corn, which significantly has the potential of reducing public health and food security challenges associated with the consumption of corn contaminated with aflatoxins and improving economic growth.
Aflatoxin refers to fungal contamination, which mostly occurs in foods such as groundnuts, rice, tree nuts, cocoa beans, spices and other dried foods, in areas with hot and humid climates before and after harvest.
Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, speaking at the National Aflatoxin Sensitisation and Management (NASAM) Project Meeting, said the technology was important because corn and corn products were among the highest consumed food in Ghana.
The Meeting was on the theme: “Aflatoxin Sensitisation: Standards, Public Health and Nixtamalisation.”
He said according to the World Health Orgainsation, aflatoxin posed great health challenges to the human organs.
He said government was excited by the introduction of the technology at a time that it was implementing a number of initiatives to improve yields and quality of agriculture products.
The Deputy Minister said initiatives like the Planting for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and One District, One Factory would need the technology as a support for improved trading and accountability.
Mr Ahenkorah said government was grateful to the government and people of Mexico for the support in providing a technology that would help reduce the concerns of aflatoxin in agriculture commodities especially maize and groundnut.
He called on research institutions, the academia and the GSA to adopt the new technology to suit the environment and make it easy and affordable for farmers and processors in the country.
Mrs Maria de Los Angeles Arriola, the Mexican Ambassador in Ghana, said her country was free from aflatoxins and it was good for the production of corn and also the health of the people.
She said Mexico had the required expertise to transfer the technology, which was cheap and affordable for use by all.
The Ambassador said the process to reduce aflatoxin would not only allow for the improvement of the quality of the corn but also allow people to be free from aflatoxin.
“It will improve the health of the people, food security and also improved economic development,” she added.
She expressed the hope that in future, the Ministries of Health and Agriculture would partner with the various stakeholders in the awareness creation on the fight against aflatoxin.
Mr Charles Amoako, Deputy Director-General, Conformity Assessment, GSA, said the meeting was part of a project the Authority had received support from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa to undertake.
He said the project aimed to catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation by improving food safety and security through increased knowledge about aflatoxins, its impact and management.
“Aflatoxins, found in cereals and nuts particularly maize, groundnut and others like sorghum and millet cannot be said to be friends to humans and animals,” he added.
He said apart from the great danger it posed in terms of health hazards to both humans and animals, it also threatens the economy of a country as aflatoxins-infected export products may suffer rejection leading to loss of income.
He said the meeting was aimed at bringing stakeholders in unity to create awareness and to strategies in the fight against the cancer-causing substance.
Mr Amoako said “the fight is a collective effort from all angles and to be able to achieve any success, we need to share ideas as members of the academia, as farmers and as food processors in carrying out the fight against this hazard, which can threaten total output in the agricultural sector.”
Earlier, the Mexican Ambassador led a two-member delegation to pay a courtesy call on the GSA to discuss the possible ways to implementing the new technology being introduced to fight aflatoxin in maize.