The Bono East regional directorate of the Department of Agriculture, Ghana, has held a one-day quality standards training workshop on maize for district crop officers under the Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana programme in Atebubu.
According to Mr. Eric Kontomah the regional crops officer, the exercise was aimed at enhancing the capacity of the crop officers in the post-harvest handling of maize to improve standards along the value chain in order to meet the standards of both the World’s Food Programme WFP and the Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX).
Quality Standards and foreign markets
He said producing high-quality maize will not only ensure the consumption of quality food locally but ensure access to foreign markets which will bring the much needed financial resources for both farmers and the country.
Quoting a 2011 research report by Gustavsson and others Mr. Kontomah said about 40% of farm produce are lost before and after harvest in Africa, whiles another 2016 study by Bruno revealed that Ghana losses about 18% of its annual maize harvest and stressed the need to stem the tide if we are to reduce hunger and poverty.
He took participants through the importance of harvesting, preparation for harvesting, moisture and harvesting, grain drying methods, harvest protection, storage and storage structures.
Mr Bernard Marfo, the regional agricultural officer in charge of extension made a presentation on the GCX, its purpose, advantages to value chain actors and the quality control measures used by the exchange.
He said the GCX which currently has warehousing facilities in Kintampo, Wenchi, Juaben, Ejura, Tamale, Afram Plains and Sandema is an electronic platform that links buyers and sellers with the primary objective of providing storage facilities and marketing opportunities for farmers to enhance agriculture.
Mr. Marfo indicated that the benefits of the exchange include an increased regional and intra-regional trade, increased availability and safety of food, availability of market information for policy intervention and trade, choice of alternative procurement and an attraction of investment in the grain sector.
He also mentioned price stability, the availability of a wide range of markets and the assurance of high-quality grains in the commodity value chain.
The regional agricultural officer in charge of extension also took the crop officers through processes of the aflatoxin screening test, grading standards, rebagging, stitching and stacking, fumigation, grain monitoring and temperature records adopted by the GCX to ensure the wholesomeness of grains kept at the various warehouses.
Participants shared ideas on how to help achieve the objectives of the training programme and promised to impress upon farmers especially maize producers to take advantage of the benefits of the GCX to increase their incomes and better their lot.