Nigeria loses $1b yearly to aflatoxin triggered diseases
Nigeria may be losing $1b yearly to the consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated foods, which result in diseases such as liver cancer and stunted growth, among other diseases, a recent study has shown.
Based on this, stakeholders in the sector have urged the Federal Government to put in place legislation that would ensure farmers use Aflasafe agro chemicals to prevent Nigerians from consuming aflatoxin-contaminated foods.
Managing Director of Harvest Field, Martins Awosanya, who disclosed this at a one-day workshop on scaling Aflatoxin solution in Nigeria crops value chain, stressed the need for government to create enabling environment to ensure farmers don’t plant maize or groundnut without the application of Aflasafe agrochemical.
Giving an instance of the Aflatoxin control in Rwanda, he said the government imposed a law that makes it a criminal offence to plant maize without Aflasafe, noting that the Federal Government can also follow suit to ensure Nigerians consume wholesome food.
Awosanya said Nigeria must not allow other African countries to overtake it in terms of exportation of Nigeria crops due to aflatoxin contamination, saying Ghana is putting in place formidable policies to ensure that crops are not rejected at the international market.
He said: “We have spent $5m to build the largest agrochemical company, but there is no enabling environment to let this thing thrive, and that is what we are asking for, economically we are ready but the regulations are not being enforced. In Ghana, you cannot deliver maize to Nestle food without testing it. In Nigeria, most maize delivered to food processors is not tested.”
He said Aflasafe is a natural product that would control aflatoxin, adding that there is a need for farmers to embrace it.
The Head of Nutrition, Crop Production and food safety division, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Oyeleke Rasaq, in his remarks pointed out that aflatoxin is a silent killer as it is responsible for many liver cancer cases in Nigeria and Africa, adding that it is also responsible for the stunting of children under the age of five.
He lamented that the country has lost a lot of revenue to the destruction of aflatoxin infested produce both at the local and international market, saying it is topmost of the agenda of the ministry to support Nigerian farmers to produce maize that is aflatoxin free through the technology developed by Harvest field.