Nutritious and affordable porridge flours launched to address malnutrition in East Africa
By: Christine Chege and Patricia Onyango
The multi-composite, safe, nutritious, and affordable porridge flours aimed at diversifying diets of consumers have been launched in Kenya and Uganda. The flours are a result of research and innovation processes by local and international public and private organizations in the two countries. In Kenya, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), a private processor – AZURI Health Ltd, and two German universities (University of Goettingen and Hohenheim University), launched Jamii Tosha and Toto Tosha, two quick-to cook multi-composite porridge flours specially developed and nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of families and children under five years respectively. Both flours are made of millet, maize, orange-fleshed sweet potato, cooked bio-fortified beans, and amaranth vegetables, and the Jamii tosha additionally has sorghum. The flours are affordable to BoP consumers: a 500 gram packet is sold at Kenya shillings 70 ($0.70) and 75 ($0.75) for Toto tosha and Jamii tosha flour respectively. In Uganda, the Super Kawomera instant porridge flour has been developed through collaboration between CIAT, the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), a private processor – Nutreal Ltd, and the two German universities mentioned. The Super Kawomera flour is made of bio-fortified beans, millet, grain amaranth, maize and soybeans. It is nutritionally balanced to contribute to the nutritional requirements of women of reproductive age and children below five years. The flour is instant, thus convenient and tasty (does not require addition of sugar or milk). A 50 gram sachet sells for Uganda shillings 500 ($ 0.14) making it affordable to a wide range of consumers.
Development of these multi-composite porridge flours has been made possible by funding from Germany through BMZ/GIZ under a three year project “Making Value Chains work for Nutrition in East Africa”. The project implements demand and supply side interventions along commodity value chains to improve nutrition of Base of the Pyramid (BoP) consumers and incomes of value chain actors, including smallholder farmers. At the same time, safety of the agricultural commodities used as ingredients to the porridge flours is enhanced and physical loss and nutrient leakages are reduced through use of affordable solar powered mobile dryer (Read more about the dryer). This is combined with demand led research to understand preference and willingness to pay of the BoP target consumer.
The launch of the Toto and Jamii Tosha porridge flours in Kenya took place on 28th August 2018 in Nairobi Kenya, while the Super Kawomera flour was launched on 12th April 2018 in Kampala, Uganda.
Figure 1: Launch of the Jamii and Toto Tosha porridge flours in Kenya
“Using the power of the market to address nutrition challenges is the right direction to follow not just in Kenya but in most of the developing countries struggling with malnutrition.”Dr. Christine Chege
“Local farmers produce the main components of the flour and this creates business for them and relieves us from the trouble of getting raw material from traditional markets where availability, quality, and safety are not assured.’’Tei Mukunya
“These products are what Kenya needs. They are important innovations that can contribute to the country’s efforts in not only addressing stunting and reversing the rising trend of non-communicable diseases, but also in achieving our Big 4 agenda as outlined by the president.”Dr. Eliud Kireger
The Chief Guest, Prof Hamadi Boga, Principal Secretary, State Department of Agricultural Research lauded the efforts that private sector organizations are doing to complement research work that is going on. “Private sector role is critical in ensuring the work of research is carried forward. We will ensure that policies supporting their operations are enforced and are working. As a country, we need to focus on product processing as a value addition apart from production. We also need to have a lot of knowledge. With research comes the knowledge that will elevate innovate products in the agricultural markets.’’
‘’For every challenge in production or processing, the education sector through universities and research organizations such as KALRO are in a position to address that gap through research,’’Prof Hamadi Boga
Figure 2: Ms. Sarah Ngalombi, Senior Nutritionist in the Ministry of Health, Uganda, launching the Super Kawomera product
Figure 3: Left Prof. Dorothy Nakimbugwe Director Nutreal Ltd, speaking to Dr. Stanley Nkalubo from NARO
Dr. Stanley Nkalubo, the Team Leader and Breeder, Legumes Research Program, at the National Crops Resource Research Institute (NaCCRI), Uganda, highlighted the importance of working directly with farmers as producers of raw material for development of the porridge flour.
Read more about the project:
Making Value Chains Work for Food and Nutrition Security of Vulnerable Populations in East Africa is supported by:
The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) has provided co-funding.
It is a joint project between DAPA-Sustainable Food Systems and the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) programs under CIAT. The project is led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in collaboration with Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), The University of Hohenheim (UHOH), and University of Göttingen (UGOE).
Future challenges, pending research questions and the way forward (second phase project):
- Mechanisms for upscaling and out-scaling
- Social Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) among the target consumers to enhance product uptake
- Enabling business environment, development of standard for safe and nutritious complementary foods in Africa
- Understanding the most suitable distribution channels and delivery mechanisms of nutritious foods to the base of the pyramid consumers in developing countries