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Eldoret students develop fortified instant ugali flour

By Titus Too
Professor Violet Mugalavai of the University of Eldoret illustrates how to make instant Ugali and porridge at the institution’s incubation centre. [Stephen Rotto, Standard]

The University of Eldoret has come up with instant flour which only requires hot water to prepare ugali or uji.

The flour which goes through an intense preparation process is also fortified with fruits and vegetables.

The initiative is also aimed at curbing post-harvest losses among smallholder farmers.

With an extruder donated by Purdue University in the United States, the temperature is set at 140 degrees Celcius then sorghum and maize flour are passed through it to cook. The equipment is worth Sh 2.7 million.

The University of Eldoret has established a Food Processing Training and Incubation Centre where students pursuing various courses in the agriculture value chain process get a chance to put their ideas to test.

The flour, known as Instant Ugali Pap and Instant Porridge Pap is their latest product. A kilogramme of the flour costs Sh200.

Professor Violet Mugalavai, in charge of the project, says they have been licensed to sell the products, which have also been certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).

“Anyone who loves their ugali or porridge can now indulge whenever they feel like. With some hot water in a flask or a dispenser, one can achieve a drink of nutritious uji or cook ugali instantly using the multipurpose fortified flour,” said Mugalavai.

They use maize, sorghum, pumpkin, bananas, mangoes, cassava, amaranth grains, millet, oranges, sweet potato, rice, carrot, baobab, chickpeas and cowpeas to make the flour.

To achieve quality instant flour products, cereals harvested by farmers are stored in special bags to ensure they remain fresh and free of contamination. After drying, they are milled and taken through the extruder.

“The main purpose of this initiative is to contribute towards sustainable reduction of post-harvest losses through technologies and innovations that link the farmers to markets across the country.

“It seeks to breach the gap between the large scale centralised fortifying model which is supported by government policy and small scale milling processes of cereals that a larger population depends on,” said Violet.

Derick Musila, a student at the university said their passion is to empower smallholder farmers through innovations such as this. 

Terry Nyakairu, Valentine Chebitok and Brenda Kerubo, also students at the centre said the process ensures that all harvests are turned into good use.

“Once we have peeled fruits, cassava and sweet potatoes among other food products, the peels are turned into byproducts for feeding animals.”

The centre’s mission is to reduce food waste and boost farmers incomes through sustainable processes.

Kenya loses up to Sh150 billion worth of food after every harvesting season. The food is tossed out or left to rot.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), farmers lost earnings as they struggled to manage, store and transport their produce to the market.

The growers lost over 1.9 million tonnes of food, even as millions of Kenyans grappled with starvation fuelled by drought.

Maize, the country’s staple food, is normally the hardest hit, with farmers losing Sh29.6 billion worth to post-harvest losses, including rodents and poor handling.

The harvest is also affected by aflatoxin, a toxin produced by fungi due to exposure to moisture.

Other produce that go to waste due to poor storage and handling, transport and fungi attack, according to data contained in the 2018 Economic Survey released last week, includes Irish potatoes (Sh19.7 billion), milk (Sh12.4 billion), beans (Sh11.5 billion), bananas (Sh5.6 billion), sweet potatoes (Sh3.5 billion), tomatoes (Sh2.4 billion), pineapples (Sh2.4 billion), sorghum (Sh1.9 billion) and millet (Sh1.6 billion).

Every year, post-harvest losses account for about about a third of the country’s produce through post-harvest losses and food wastage by consumers who buy more than they need,.

This has an impact on the country’s food security and reduces profitability for farmers. The government has estimated post-harvest losses at 20 per cent.

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