Assessment of Farm Families’ Farm Practices and Awareness of Health Risks Related to Groundnuts: Case Studies from Mubende, Mayuge and Iganga Districts, Uganda
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Thesis or Dissertation
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Abstract: Groundnuts are among commodities with a high risk of infection by fungi, which produce aflatoxins. While it is known that the fungi are capable of invading the crop at both pre and post harvest stages, the extent to which farm family groundnut production practices predispose the produce to infection and the factors that affect these practices are not well understood. A cross- sectional qualitative case study was therefore conducted in 16 households, which were purposively selected from Bugodi village in Mayuge district, Kiboyo village in Iganga district and Gayaza and Kabulamuliro villages in Mubende district. Pre and post-harvest practices assessed for predisposing the crop to fungal invasion included; planting time, crop spacing, soil improvement, weed, pest and disease control, harvesting, drying, sorting, storage and shelling. Qualitative data was obtained through focus group discussions, participant and non-participant observations and individual interviews using a checklist. Most practices depicted high chances of groundnut predisposition to fungal invasion and aflatoxin contamination. Results have revealed that a number of households planted late, weeds, pests and diseases were not adequately controlled, no soil improvement strategies were carried out. Most households harvested groundnuts when they were overdue, hoes used inflicted damage to the groundnuts, pods were stripped after lifting was completed and were not cleaned. Drying was not done immediately after harvesting and if they did so, it was intended to get rid of the soil. Actual drying started after harvesting of all the groundnuts and it entirely depended on nature. It was done on bare ground, which was believed to facilitate fast drying. Some households intentionally did inconsistent drying, as it was believed to make groundnuts heavy during selling. No household sorted groundnuts prior to storage. Most households stored in pod form, in bags and others in pots, old jerricans and metallic drums; no household had a separate store. Length of storage ranged from three months to one year and all households faced a problem of rats. All households stored well-dried groundnuts but after a few weeks, groundnuts absorbed moisture and became damp. Shelling was done by hand and shortly before planting or consumption. Factors that influenced farmers to carry out practices the way they did included; inadequate labor, capital and land, ill health, unfavorable weather conditions, lack of agricultural information and vermin among others. Awareness of health risks related to eating groundnuts, was elementary and none of the households was aware of aflatoxin poisoning. I therefore recommend that farmers form groups through which they can work together, access loans and markets. That farmers be trained on the recommended field and post harvest practices in order to minimize predisposition of groundnuts to fungal invasion. That communities be sensitized about health risks associated with the consumption of contaminated groundnuts.