A participatory varietal selection field day was organized at Silbelle, north Ghana on 5th October. The purpose of the field day was to expose farmers to the advanced breeding genotypes of groundnut that exhibit tolerance to aflatoxin contamination.
Over the past three years, ICRISAT and partners have been researching on identifying aflatoxin tolerant lines from the breeding nursery in Mali and evaluating on-station in Nyankpala, Ghana.
After evaluation, farm trials have been repeated since 2016 in collaboration with agricultural extension agents from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).
During the participatory varietal selection day, farmers selected their most preferred genotype based on their own selection criteria which were: well filled and high number of pods per plant, early maturity (90 days to maturity), good plant stand, fodder quantity to feed animals in the lean season and good canopy cover to suppress weed growth. A total of 94 farmers (63 male and 31 female) came together from six communities. The varietal selection exercise took place along with personnel from the extension services, NGOs, input dealers and seed growers.
Farmers ranked the genotypes at the end of the field day and those in the top five were: ICGV-IS 08837, ICGV 13071, ICGV 91279, ICGV 13015 and ICGV 13106. These genotypes were received from ICRISAT-WCA and will be advanced down the varietal release pipeline.
Aflatoxin contamination in groundnut and groundnut based products is a serious concern in Ghana impacting nutrition, health and the economy. While the permissible level of aflatoxin by Ghanaian regulation in food products is 20 ppb, a 2014 IFPRI report notes an average level of 42.5 ppb in groundnut paste and 76.9 ppb in ‘kulikuli’ – a popular snack in north Ghana. A survey conducted in 2015 by the USAID sponsored ICRISAT groundnut scaling project also revealed aflatoxin levels between 4.7 – 55 ppb.
A strong association between aflatoxin and anemia in pregnant women in Ghana has been found by Shuiab et al. (2010). Another study by Jolly et al. (2006) traced the presence of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) albumin adducts in the blood plasma (0.12–3.00 pmol/mg) and aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) metabolite in the urine (up to 11,562.36 pg/mg) of people in a heavy peanut and maize consuming part of Ghana. Aflatoxins contribute to low birth weight, growth impairment, immunity suppression as well as mental retardation in children. Infants exposed to the fungi recorded low height-for-age and low weight-for-age scores.
Hence, wide adoption of aflatoxin tolerant genotypes will benefit farmers and consumers as groundnut is a major part of the diet in Ghana.
Due to high levels of aflatoxin contamination, most farmers are missing out on market opportunities as their products are not meeting food safety standards. Adopting tolerant lines will open up export options to farmers and processors adding extra income and boosting the economy.
To know more about ICRISAT’s work on aflatoxin click here
Project: Tropical Legumes III
Funder: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Partners: International Center for Tropical Agriculture, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, ICRISAT, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR- SARI) and NARS from selected countries