A wide range of abiotic and biotic stresses negatively impact peanut production in the field and generally contributes to the reduced quality of marketed peanut in Ghana and West Africa. Aflatoxin contamination can occur and increase at all steps of the peanut supply chain including production in the field, storage in fields and villages, and in processed products. Interventions at each step of the supply chain can minimize aflatoxin contamination. Improved production in the field including pest resistant cultivars, adequate soil fertility and plant nutrition, and synchronization of peanut pod growth phase with adequate soil moisture can increase peanut yield and quality and minimize aflatoxin contamination. Adequate and timely drying of farmer stock peanut minimizes additional production of aflatoxin during storage in villages prior to marketing. Effective processing of farmer stock and shelled stock peanut can also reduce aflatoxin prior to purchase and consumption. Determining current practices by farmers, conducting research to mitigate aflatoxin and improve peanut quality, and transferring appropriate technology to farmers are needed to improve productivity, profits, and quality of peanut and to increase safety of peanut products consumed by humans and livestock.
The primary platform being used to research aflatoxin contamination of peanut in the supply chain in Ghana is taking place in nine villages in northern and central Ghana. Interventions at each step of the supply chain are being implemented and aflatoxin contamination determined. Research is conducted at two institutions associated with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and at the Crops Research Institute (CRI) to develop appropriate production and pest management strategies and to evaluate new germplasm suitable for the region. Results from efforts at villages and research stations are presented to farmers using the Farmer Field School approach and appropriate posters, bulletins and manuals. Graduate student training is closely linked to activities in villages and research stations.
Results from the project are providing farmers in Ghana with information on documented interventions that reduce aflatoxin contamination of peanut throughout the supply chain. Improved productivity and quality of peanut coupled with acceptable levels of aflatoxin in peanut products improve access to local, regional, national and international markets leading to enhanced economic viability of farmers and their communities.