In line with activities marking this year’s World Food Safety Day, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, Barry Callebaut Ghana has taken the message of food safety to some key cocoa-growing communities in selected districts in the Ashanti Region.
The move forms part of efforts to ensure cocoa farmers understand the need to prioritize and include good food safety practices in their work to ensure the end products from their farms are wholesome and chemical-free.
The Farmer engagement was organized in collaboration with Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Limited, the only licensed buying company for Barry Callebaut in Ghana.
Officials from the two companies visited about five communities in the Ashanti Region namely, Ankaase, Oseikrom in the New Edubiase District, Hia (Obuasi), and Marfokrom and Adoowa in the Ashanti Bekwai District.
Farmers were taken through activities that impact food safety such as fertilization, pesticide application (pest control) and handling PPE after chemical application.
Other activities were the disposal of used chemical containers, handling of produce with key emphasis on preventing allergens (cashew and peanuts), carbohydrates, communicable disease, aflatoxins-buildup, use of banned chemicals and pesticide residues in cocoa beans.
A session was also held to educate farmers on everyday domestic activities likely to impact food safety such as cooking, use of clean water, detergent storage, handwashing among others.
In his interaction with the farmers, Caleb Agblo, the Food Safety Coordinator at Barry Callebaut Ghana advised the farmers not to downplay the issue of food and personal hygiene as it has long term effects on the end products.
‘’It’s important to ensure personal hygiene as farmers because you are not just producing for yourselves but the entire world. Wash your hands with soap and clean water before and after handling the cocoa beans to prevent cross-contamination. Also, ensure that foods that are likely to cause allergic reactions such as nuts are not dried alongside the cocoa beans on the same racks and ensure your surroundings are clean’’, he observed.
For his part, the Farm Services Manager for Nyonkopa (Assin Fosu), Ernest Kobil, called on the farmers to desist from using banned and unapproved chemicals to spray their farms as it had a dire consequence on not just their health, but on the wholesomeness of their produce as well.
‘’Overuse of chemicals causes the pods to overripe and by the time you harvest, it would have turned into black beans which are inevitably rejected on the international market’’, he emphasised.
World Food Safety Day falls on June 7, 2021 and aims at drawing attention and inspiring action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health and economic prosperity.
This year’s celebration is on the theme, ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow’. The Call to Action for Barry Callebaut this year is to grow it safe – The need for Agriculture and food producers to adopt good practices.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Head of Sourcing at Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Limited, David Koomson, has challenged farmers to prioritize accountability and bookkeeping in their operations to ensure they get value for money after every farming season.
‘’We have coaches and clerks on standby to assist you with your accounting needs. Make use of them so you are able to track the investments you put into your farms’’.