The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has urged farmers to guard against any form of fungi in agricultural produce to ensure food safety.
The Director General of the agency, Dr Paul Orhi, made the call in Enugu on Wednesday at a sensitisation campaign on `Aflatoxin Management in Nigeria’.
The campaign was organized by NAFDAC in collaboration with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
Orhii, represented by the Director of Laboratory Services, Mrs Stella Danloye, said the fungal disease called aflatoxin had posed a serious problem to health and international trades of agricultural produce.
“Fungal growth and the presence of aflatoxins have been identified as major food safety advocates impacting human and animal health as well as trade interests.
“Aflatoxins have been implicated in chronic toxicity and in liver cancer, suppression of the immune system and stunted growth in children,’’ he said.
The DG urged the farmers to make concerted efforts to reduce the risks associated with aflatoxin contamination and toxicity to ensure food security.
Declaring the workshop open, the Enugu State Governor, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Michael Eneh, said the state would always support NAFDAC and IITA in their fight against the menace of aflatoxin in Nigeria.
Eneh recalled that agriculture was the major source of income in Nigeria but later declined at the discovery of oil.
He urged farmers to utilise the gains of the workshop to enhance the standard of farm produce to meet international standards. The representative of IITA, Dr Joseph Atehnkeng, urged the farmers to use Aflasafe, a chemical produced by the institute, to reduce aflatoxin contamination.
Atehnkeng said a research conducted by IITA showed that Aflasafe could reduce the fungi growth to a low level.
In his remarks, the state Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Chief Alfred Eneh, thanked NAFDAC and IITA for the training.
Eneh promised that farmers in the state would put the outcome of the training into proper use for a healthy and improved agricultural trade.