Technological and market interventions for aflatoxin control in Ghana

Aflatoxins, a class of mycotoxins (toxins produced by fungi) are tasteless, odourless, invisible, and cause a number of serious health problems including liver cancer. Groundnuts and maize, both important staple foods in much of Africa, are the crops most vulnerable to aflatoxin contamination. There are many simple ways farmers can prevent contamination, yet adoption of these practices in Africa is low for several apparent reasons:

  1. farmers and other actors along the value chain know little about aflatoxin and ways to reduce contamination;
  2. tools to reduce aflatoxin contamination are not readily available or are prohibitively expensive; and
  3. the market does not reward produce low in aflatoxins at a price that offsets the cost of prevention. 

This report describes a randomised controlled trial among groundnut farmers in northern Ghana designed to test the impact of two approaches to encouraging adoption of post-harvest practices for the reduction of aflatoxins. Results indicate that simply training farmers and making tools for aflatoxin prevention available has a significant impact on post-harvest practices.