Unconfirmed information reaching the Ghana News Agency (GNA) from Wa indicates that traces of the chemical used by the AngloGold Ashanti Malaria (AGAMal) Control Programme has been found in Shea butter and groundnuts coming from the Upper West Region.
Traces of the chemical in the products according to the information picked up by the GNA was discovered in Germany and the Netherlands through traceability studies and if confirmed could have serious international trade implications as well as dire consequences on the health of local consumers.
International buyers of the product have since refused to come and buy the product since the discovery about two weeks ago.
Mr. Kweku Minka Fordjour, Upper West Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) when contacted, said the information got to him last Thursday and said it was too early to say whether it was true or not until some further investigations were made.
He said he could however confirm that through MOFA’s market price survey, there had been about 60 per cent reduction in the prices of the two products in the local market.
The Upper West MoFA Director said the malaria programme by Anglogold Ashanti in the region was with good intent but that if the discovery was found to be true then as a good corporate body, it should be able to implement measures that would ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
Mr. Daniel Banuoku, Deputy Executive Director of the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) which is also the lead CSO for the Northern Ghana CSO Platform on Agriculture said they were alarmed and concerned by the recent discovery regarding AGAMal’s mosquito spraying activities in the region.
He said Shea butter and groundnuts were two key products that had high value in the market and were both of competitive advantage to the Upper West Region in particular.
“There is no other Shea butter in the world that could compete with what was produced in the Upper West Region”, Mr. Banuoku said.
“You cannot also find groundnuts anywhere in the world that was as healthy and more useful than what were produced from the region”, he added.
The CIKOD Deputy Executive Director said the two products actually employed a lot of women and households and constituted a big margin of livelihoods of rural population in the region.
He called for a full investigation into the issue and that if found to be true, then Anglogold Ashantin and its subsidiary company AGAMal should be held responsible to look at ways they could help ameliorate the impact of the recent discovery on the livelihoods of the people.
Mr Banuoku said this was going to have a long lasting effect if found to be true as it would take not less than five years coupled with research to be able to prove and convince the international buyers to restore any lost confidence that might have been caused by the discovery.
He urged MOFA, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and all stakeholders in the agriculture value chain to take the issue important because livelihoods of millions of people were going to be affected.