Farmers awareness on the effect of Aflatoxin in groundnut (arachis hypogea)




Aflatoxins, produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus Link ex Fries and Aspergillus parasiticus Speare, are the major toxins affecting the quality of groundnuts (Arachis hypogaea L.) meant for human consumption. Groundnuts can be infected with aflatoxin-producing fungi pre-harvest, at harvest and post-harvest. This survey was conducted in Gujarat province in India in order to assess farmers’ and other stakeholders’ (extension staff and traders) perceptions and knowledge of aflatoxin contamination of groundnuts and to evaluate the agronomic and market practices used to manage it. The survey investigated the effects of the socioeconomic background of the farmers. The results showed that the socioeconomic and psychological characteristics, viz. education, caste, farm size, social participation, extension participation, market orientation, economic motivation, innovativeness and perception had positive and significant associations with farmers’ knowledge. The extension staff and traders had a good understanding of the problem and of the importance of managing aflatoxin contamination but farmers did not. Farmers’ who practised effective crop husbandry in order to increase production were unwittingly managing aflatoxin contamination to some extent. Their marketing practises showed that the problem of aflatoxin contamination was neglected at both the production and marketing stages. We suggest that extension agencies need to train farmers in the use of biological control agents, post-harvest management and identification of aflatoxin contamination. Partnerships need to be forged between research institutions, the departments of agriculture of various states, marketing agencies, NGOs, farmers’ groups, consumer groups, agrochemical manufacturers and other stakeholders in order to develop strategies for addressing the problem of aflatoxin contamination.