Grain Production Farmers in Volta and Oti regions have been sensitized to upgrade the standards of their produce.
The sensitisation program seeks to create awareness to the public about the new standards that have been developed by the Grain Council, to enable farmers produce higher quality of grains.
Organised by the Ghana Grain Council, with funding from USAID and DANIDA, it was under the theme “The Ghana Grain Council and the BUSAG fund advocates for the enforcement of standards in the grain industry”.
Executive Secretary of the Council, Madam Emily Boahene noted that a structured trading system could be achieved if traders, farmers, processors and millers have regulated trading and financing arrangements.
She noted that companies such as Nestle and Guinness purchase grains based on how they are developed and that some products are rejected on the markets because they do not meet the required standards.
“In Ghana, the grain industry has no laws or standards, one could just harvest and send to the market for sales. Laws however that govern grain farmers must be strategised to fit the industry”, she noted .
Madam Boahene noted that in Africa and Ghana, cocoa and coffee have structured systems like laws used for export commodities, but that, she said, was not common with staple crops like grains.
Madam Boahene noted that farmers must practice good post harvest management and reliable or commercial storage and warehousing by adhering to the grades and standards of market information and contracts.
She said “Adhering to the grade standard sets the requirements for safety of the food. That is, to know whether the grain has moisture, mercury, led content and whether it is broken. In addition the quality must also be checked”.
“We must produce neat grains for a company like Nestle to buy from us. If they test and they know our grain is not good for children, we will lose them, so we must train ourselves and produce plenty of quality grains so the money can come to us rather than foreigners importing to us”, she cautioned.
She noted that, the quality requirement cover things that processors or consumers may be concerned with such as broken grains and foreign matter. Therefore, to bring change in the grain industry “we must put standards in place, you cannot do without these standards”, she added.
She called on government and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to strengthen their advocacy to train more grain farmers with standards otherwise grains that are produced may lose markets.
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She cautioned farmers to apply safety requirements over things that may harm the consumer due to the presence of mycotoxins, diseased grains and other poisonous substances, pesticides residue and physical materials like stones and pieces of metals that can get into the grain.
For his part, Chief Executive Officer of M&B Seeds, Mr. Ben Kemetse said he was grateful to the Grain Council for organizing such program, “since it would modernise agriculture”.
He said “farmers will understand the quality of production that will bring more income and value to the grains” He advised farmers to take the training seriously to achieve more and build high quality grains.
By Agnes Melissa Yovo | Volta Region