Government set to release blended maize meal

Kenyans had relied heavily on ugali as their staple food. [Courtesy]
The Government has moved to stem over-reliance on maize and subsequent consumption of ugali. The initiative is also expected to address malnutrition and stunted growth.

Maize flour will be blended with millet, sorghum, cassava or amaranth, in a joint project involving the Government, millers and scholars. The new blended flour is expected to hit the market in the next three months.

This emerged at the end of a three-day workshop on flour blending for food nutrition and security held at Dairy Training Institute (DTI) in Naivasha.

Zakayo Magero, the crops deputy director in the Ministry of Agriculture, told journalists that two millers had been identified for the pilot study.

He said for years, Kenyans had relied heavily on ugali as their staple food, adding that the new blended flour would be richer in nutrients. This comes days after a Government survey revealed that a wide range of maize meal or wheat flour branded as fortified does not have the additional nutrients promised on the packets.

“Under the new programme, maize flour will be the base product and will be blended with either millet, sorghum, cassava or amaranth,” he said yesterday, adding that the initiative would lead to more Kenyans embracing millet, sorghum, cassava and amaranth farming.

Mr Magero said by 2022, an estimated 14.8 million bags of flour will have been produced from the four products.

“We shall be working with the counties where millet, sorghum, cassava or amaranth is grown so that farmers can be supported to produce more."

Kello Harsama, the ministry's administration secretary, said ugali lacked key nutrients hence the high levels of stunted growth.

He said the ‘piloted ugali’ would be tastier and more nutritious, adding that more areas would be opened up to grow millet, sorghum, cassava or amaranth.

Ministry of Agriculture Administration Secretary Kello Harsama with University of Nairobi Professor Jasper Imungi and the ministry's Head of Nutrition unit Jane Wambugu address the press on blended flour at the Dairy Training Institute in Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]
Huge quantities

“Millet will be required in huge quantities and this will empower farmers across the country who did not have a market for their produce,” he said.

Jasper Imungi, a professor at the University of Nairobi, said the first phase of the project would target five blends to see if consumers would embrace the product.

He said the cost of the blended flour would be determined by market forces, adding that the pilot project had already kicked off.

“We also plan to introduce sweet potatoes and wheat blends as new products depending on how consumers react to the blended flour," he said.

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