The study shows Aspergillus flavus and aflatoxin contamination of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L) from groundnut samples collected from the six markets in the Central Region of Ghana namely: Swedru, Mankessim, Cape Coast, Fosu, Jukwa and Kasoa. All groundnut sellers interviewed were females and have no knowledge about aflatoxins. Thirty five percent 35% of the groundnut sellers had no formal education whilst 26.7% had basic primary education and 23.3% had Junior high school education.
The fungal organisms encountered on the groundnut samples from the six market centres were: Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Botryodiplodia theobromae, Macrophomina phaseolina, Penicillum spp. and Rhizopus spp. Laboratory results indicate that on unamended PDA Fosu A. flavus isolate showed better growth (8.5 cm) than the rest (7.0 cm- 8.0cm). However, there was a strong radial growth inhibition of A. flavus, in the garlic amended PDA than the rest of the botanical extracts.

Whereas the HPLC analyses of the groundnut samples were all below the tolerable limit (20 ppb) of Ghana Bureau of Standards for consumption, Cape Coast recorded the highest of (9.1 ppb) and Jukwa recorded the lowest (1.8 ppb). The four types of aflatoxin detected in the groundnut samples from the six market centres were: B1, B2, G1 and G2.

Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is an important food and feed crop, which also serves as a component of crop rotation in many tropical countries (Pande, Saxena & Pandey, 2003; Upadhyaya, Reedy, Gowda & Singh, 2006). It is believed that groundnut was a cultivated annual of South America origin and domesticated in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia (Tweneboah, 2000). The major groundnut producing countries in the world include India, China, America, the Gambia and Malaysia. Leading producing countries in Africa include Nigeria, Senegal, Niger and Sudan (Tweneboah, 2000). Developing countries account for 97% of the world’s groundnut area and 94% of the total production (Food Agriculture Organization Statistics, 2010).Groundnut yield in this part of the world and particularly in Africa is lower than the world average due to prevailing abiotic and biotic factors (Pande et al., 2003; Upadhyaya et al., 2006; Caliskan, Arslan & Arioglu, 2008). The average yield of groundnut was 1.5 mt / ha and 4.8 mt / ha in 2010 and 2012, respectively (Food Agriculture Organization, 2012).

Groundnut is grown mainly in the northern part of Ghana, including Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions. It is also grown in small quantities in small towns and villages in Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Volta Regions. The production of groundnut is a source of employment and hence income to people in rural and urban areas, as well as those who sell in the market centres (Tsigbey, Branddenburg & Clottey, 2004, Carlberg, 2008, Debrad & Saliyar, 2006, Waele & Swanevelder, 2001) thereby alleviating poverty. Groundnut is also a non-traditional export crop in Ghana, hence a source of foreign exchange. For instance in 2014 Ghana exported a volume of groundnut to the European Union amounting to 10.5 million Euros (Florkowski & Kolavalli, 2012).
Groundnuts play a vast role in food security in Ghana been a source of vegetable and protein (Izge, Mohammed & Goni, 2007). Groundnuts conspicuously exceed meat and eggs in carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamin B1, C, and niacin. They are also superior in terms of minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and potassium, without cholesterol or excess saturated fatty acids (Roger, 2001). Groundnut is eaten fresh, roasted, boiled or grilled and in the preparation of soup (Waele & Swanevelder, 2001). It is used as butter, eaten alone, in sandwiches; into chocolate as well as in candies, pies and other products (World Book of Encyclopedia, 1990). It can thrive under hash environmental condition and plays important role in improving soil conditions by adding atmospheric nitrogen to the soil (Smart, Wicklow & Caldwell, 1990).

Problem Statement
In spite of the economic importance of groundnut there are great challenges associated with its production in Ghana. As a result, yields of groundnuts in the country are lower compared to the average for the developing countries (FAO, 2003; Nutsugah, Oboateng, Tsigbey & Brandenburg, 2007). The current average yield of groundnut in Ghana is 1.4 Mt ha-1 which is lower compared to the potential yield of 2.5 Mt ha-1 (Ministry Of Food Agriculture-Statistics Research Information Directorate, 2013), and far lower compared to the world average of 4.8 Mt ha-1 (FAO, 2012).

Notable among these challenges facing groundnut production in Ghana are fungal contaminants such as Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Which affect seed germination of groundnut by reducing the viability, resulting in poor production. Besides, infection of groundnut by these fungal organisms such as A. flavus and A. parasiticus, results in the production of mycotoxins such as aflatoxin which are toxic to both humans and animals (Kaaya, Eigal & Harris, 2006). Aflatoxin contamination of food commodities and its associated health risks have raised universal concern over the years. The presence of aflatoxins is therefore considered as one of the most important groundnut quality problems in many African countries including Ghana (Kaaya et al., 2006).

In addition, the moustiness and mouldy smell of the harvested produce of groundnut affect the market value and hence its profitability. Generally, mycotoxins are associated with fungi infection of groundnut which include loss of germination, moistness as well as mouldy smell (Sauer, Meronuck & Christensen, 1992; Frisvad, 1995), and aflatoxin contamination (McAlpin, Wicklow & Horn, 2002; Bankole & Adebanjo, 2003).
Furthermore, from 2009 to 2013, analytical results from EU control laboratories reported that aflatoxin levels exceeded European Union limits for groundnut and peanut butter from Ghana. This necessitated the EU to impose import controls for groundnut from Ghana (Ghana Export Promotion Authority, 2015).

It is therefore pertinent to develop an effective management strategy to reduce fungal infection of groundnut in order to improve viability of seed, market value of grains and also reduce the levels of aflatoxin contamination. Knowledge of factors affecting the quality of groundnuts at the various markets is an important prerequisite to the development of the effective strategy. Also information on types of fungal organisms infecting groundnuts and the associated types and levels of aflatoxin contamination of the groundnuts are also important in the development of such effective strategy (Sauer et al., 1992).
However, there is inadequate information on the factors affecting the quality of groundnuts at the various market centres. Chemical fungicides such as Thiram have been used to control fungal infection of groundnut (Okello, Briuma & Deom, 2010). The use of chemical pesticides, has both health and environmental hazards, and also very expensive, beyond the financial means of many farmers. Therefore, there is the need to identify sustainable and environmental friendly remedy to salvage this situation such as botanicals which can be found all over the communities at no cost, non-toxic to the environment and human.

When an effective strategy for managing fungal infection is developed, it will minimise fungal infection of groundnuts at the various markets. Further, by minimising fungal infection, mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins, which cause health risk to both humans and animals, will also be reduced. Furthermore, this could increase the volume of groundnut export to the foreign markets, thereby improving the foreign exchange earning of the country and thus improving the economy of Ghana.

Objectives of the Study
Main objective
The main objective of the study was to determine the factors affecting the quality of groundnut, the types of fungal organisms and their management as well as identifying the types and levels of aflatoxins in groundnut from six major markets in the Central Region.

Specific objectives were as follows:
To determine sellers’ perception of fungal contamination, their source of seeds, transportation and storage.

To identify seed-borne mycoflora of the groundnut samples from the six markets in the Central Region.
To determine the diversity of Aspergillus flavus isolates from the groundnut samples based on cultural and morphological characteristics.
To identify the efficacy of botanicals on the growth of Aspergillus flavus in vitro.
To determine the types and quantity of aflatoxins in the groundnut samples.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 110 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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