ACCRA, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement Programme (ADVANCE), has teamed up with global food giant Nestle to establish a partnership for regular supply of high-quality agricultural commodities in Ghana.

Under their joint project, 113,000 maize farmers in the three northern regions (provinces) of Ghana will be trained on best practices necessary for growing quality grains, as well as for harvesting, packaging and storage, to help reduce high levels of mycotoxins in maize to acceptable international standards.

Mycotoxins are compounds produced by fungi and they contaminate food crops both before and after harvest. Aflatoxins, fumonisins, zearalenone and trichothecenes (deoxynivalenol and nivalenol) are among mycotoxins which contaminate maize and are harmful to both humans and animals.

Freda Duplan, the Managing Director of Nestle Ghana, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the USAID here over the weekend, said the company’s Cereal Plan was supporting its commitment to increase local sourcing as part of its Creating Shared Value initiatives.

She explained that the Nestle Cereal Plan, aimed at enabling farmers to produce better quality grain, would generate higher revenue for them and improve their livelihood. Nestle Ghana is sourcing 100 per cent of its cereals, such as maize, millet and rice, from local farmers for its factory in Ghana.

USAID-ADVANCE, which started three years ago, and will end in 2018, supports farmers to increase their productivity and improve access to high end markets.

Signing the MoU on behalf of USAID, Emmanuel Dormon, the programme’s Chief of Party, said: We see this collaboration with Nestle as an excellent opportunity and motivation for smallholder farmers to further improve their agronomic and post-harvest management practices to meet the quality requirements of high end industrial users.”