The CSIR STEPRI as part of its participation in the AGRA sponsored Project to develop a National Policy for Aflatoxin Control in Food and Feed Value Chain has held a 2 day or Stakeholder Consultation and Validation Workshop to finalize work on a draft policy document that has been put together.
The Deputy Director of STEPRI, Dr. Mrs. Adelaide Agyeman welcomed participants to the workshop as well as STEPRI. She stated that a Policy on aflatoxin is long overdue and action is therefore needed. She assured participants that Management of STEPRI will the workshop recommendations collated for onward consideration
In his statement, the chairman of the National Steering Committee on Aflatoxin Control (NSCAC), Prof. Richard T. Awuah gave a background to the committee and some of the efforts at bringing into being such a policy.
He said Aflatoxins are dangerous fungi metabolites that were Discovered in 1963 in Ghana, research efforts have been on detection (FRI, Nuguchi, UG, KNUST) with little directed towards control. He said there is an increasing need for a group to manage activities related to aflatoxin in the country. There was participation in meetings in Uganda and Ethiopia (2014-2016) where the emphasis was laid on the formation of National Aflatoxin Control Steering Committees at country levels. He reiterated the point that past efforts at forming such a national committee has been a failure. It was, therefore, a relief when the NSCAC was inaugurated on 12th October 2018 by Prof. Kwabena Frempong Boating, 9 months ago. He said the NSCAC is broad-based entity with 26 members in the committee covering all stakeholders
Prof Awuah stated that the NSCAC s Terms of Reference we to Draft an aflatoxin policy; ensure its implementation; create awareness; seek partnerships with PACA, and mobilize resources for aflatoxin related activity implementation.
The achievements of the NASCAC so far has been
Created an aflatoxin platform, designed a letterhead ; awareness creation on-going at the level of individuals using various forums; supported data collection for the development of the national aflatoxin policy; 2 meetings held, and reviewed the draft policy.
A statement by the representative from AGRA reiterated the following:
That AGRA was established in 2006, adopted based on the positive gains of the Asian experience, working in 11 countries, providing grants, technical assistance and staff time.
It works with state capability (working with governments to develop policies), systems improvements; and working with consortiums at farmer level to improve crop value chains.
She appealed to all participants to contribute effectively
Dr Rose Omari, the lead scientist on the project in a statement stated that the:
Rationale for developing the Policy: Numerous on-going interventions, uncoordinated, hence impact not visible.
Achievements so far in the policy process: Formation of NASC; situation analysis conducted; stakeholder validation workshop; draft policy developed; Review of daft policy by NASC; and currently, stakeholder review and adoption of the draft policy and development of implementation plan.
Policy Objectives (7): Policies, legislations, and standard for aflatoxin control; Awareness, advocacy, and communication for aflatoxin-safe products; research and technology transfer on aflatoxins; surveillance systems aflatoxin related disease detection; strengthening consumer protection; increase trade; and mobilize resources.
To present the draft national aflatoxin policy to stakeholders and get comments for adoption
To develop an action/implementation plan for the policy
Vision: To improve harmonization and coordination among all stakeholders
She went on to state that the Goal of the whole project was to protect humans and animal health and improve incomes if value chain actors
She again said the Guiding Policy Principles of the project were Intersectoral collaborations; evidence-based research; cost-effectiveness; cultural relevance; gender-sensitive; equity and fairness; stakeholder/community participation; program integration; and environmental sustainability.
In order to get the work of the day done, participants were put into 7 groups with the following foci:
Presentation 1: Facilitate the development, harmonization, and enforcement of policies, legislations, and standards for aflatoxin control
Presentation 2: Increase public awareness, advocacy, and communication for aflatoxin safe food and feed
Presentation 3: Strengthening research and technology transfer on aflatoxins
Presentation 4: Strengthen surveillance systems for the detection of aflatoxin related diseases in humans, livestock and fish
Presentation 5: Develop mechanisms to strengthen consumer protection
Presentation 6: Increase domestic and international food trade
Presentation 7: Mobilise resources for aflatoxin related activities
On Day 2 the groups from Day 1 were retained to develop action plans for their group policy objectives to enable the development of the Implementation Plan for the policy.
Participants for this all-important workshop were drawn from institutions such as the Association of Ghana Industries, The CSIR, Fishers Association, Ghana Health Service, Farmers Organization network, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Noguchi in the University of Ghana, Ghana Sdantasrds Authority, Ministry Of Food and Agriculture, Ghana Commodity Exchange, etc