Agricultural stakeholders have said that the consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated food costs Nigeria about $1 billion annually on health-related challenges.
According to the stakeholders, government needs to increase awareness of the dangers associated with aflatoxin contamination.
The participants at the one-day workshop on ‘Scaling Aflatoxin Solution in Nigeria’s Crop Value Chain,’ organised by Harvestfield Industries Limited and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) made this known in Abuja.
Experts at the event appealed to the Federal Government to establish legislation that would ensure that farmers use Aflasafe agrochemicals to prevent Nigerians from consuming aflatoxin-contaminated foods.
Foods contaminated with aflatoxin usually cause diseases such as liver cancer, stunted growth among others, the stakeholders said.
Aflatoxin was said to be a highly toxic, cancer-causing poison that cannot be seen, tasted or smelt, even when in high concentration.
Aflasafe, on the other hand, was described as a natural anti-aflatoxin product made from pre-existing fungi that human beings have co-existed within the environment for millennia.
According to a statement following the release of aflasafe, “Aflasafe is a relatively inexpensive way to solve the problem of aflatoxin in human and animal food, with the potential to return hundreds of millions of dollars to African economies. This makes Aflasafe highly cost-effective
“The most innovative component of Aflasafe is that it is country-specific, with products tailored for Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Burkina Faso, The Gambia and Benin, amongst others
“For more than two decades now, IITA has been working with partners within and outside Africa on Aflasafe,” the statement read in part.
In his remarks, Managing Director of Harvestfield, Mr. Martins Awosanya, noted the need for the government to ensure that farmers do not go into maize, groundnut farming without the aflasafe agrochemical to neutralise the harmful effects of aflatoxins.
Giving an instance of the aflatoxin control in Rwanda, the government imposed a law that made it a criminal offence to plant maize without aflasafe, he said
Awosanya, therefore, urged the Nigerian government to borrow a leaf and follow suit in ensuring that Nigerian farmers consume wholesome food.
On his part, Head of Nutrition, Crop Production and Food Safety Division in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Oyeleke Rasaq, emphasised that aflatoxin was a silent killer, adding that it was responsible for many liver cancer cases in Nigeria and Africa among other debilitating diseases
The division head also noted that the country had lost a lot of revenue to the destruction caused by aflatoxin-infested produce both at the local and international markets.
Rasaq, therefore, said that the government will support Nigerian farmers to produce maize that are aflatoxin-free.
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