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.
Consumption of these flours will contribute in improving diets of the vulnerable rural and urban consumers at the base of the pyramid in Kenya and Uganda thereby assisting in fighting malnutrition in the two countries. In Kenya, malnutrition is considered to be the single greatest contributor to deaths among children under 5, causing 45 percent of those deaths, either directly or indirectly. The latest Kenya Demographic Health Survey shows that 26 percent of children under 5 are stunted, 11 percent underweight, and 46 percent of women are iron deficient, while 26 percent of adult women and men in Kenya are overweight or obese. In Uganda, five in every ten children are malnourished and 29 percent of children under five are stunted.
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.
“Development organizations and governments are looking for new, innovative, market-led solutions to make their investments deliver on reduction of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition at the same time. This requires well integrated, evidence-based, multidisciplinary approaches beyond single commodity efforts supported so far. The NSVC approach used in this project is one such innovative approach that can be used to address these challenges.” Matthias Jäger

Senior Expert Markets & Value Chains (CIAT)

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

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

Economist and Nutrition Specialist , CIAT

Ms. Tei Mukunya, CEO, Azuri Health Ltd thanked all the partners who have supported the process to finally having the two nutritious flours in the Kenyan market. ‘’Azuri Health Ltd started eight years ago as an innovative processor who was looking for innovative products to diversify consumer diets, identifying nutrition as an unmet market opportunity. My interaction with various actors propelled the business to greater heights and we have developed more products in our name. The launch of these two nutritious porridge flours – Toto Tosha and Jamii Tosha, will diversify consumer diets in Kenya today.’’
Speaking at the launch event in Kenya, Dr. Christine Chege, an Economist and Nutrition Specialist from CIAT highlighted how important all project partners have been towards development of the Tosha flours. “Today we celebrate results of a successful collaboration between local and international private and public organizations. The research and academic organizations in this project have provided the required knowledge base to guide development of nutritious and affordable flours which will play an important role in fighting malnutrition in this country.”

“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

CEO, Azuri Health Ltd

“Currently, 46 percent of women in Kenya are iron deficient and 26 percent children under 5 are stunted. The Toto and Jamii Tosha flours are breakthrough innovations, helping to solve these significant public health issues in Kenya. The launch of these affordable, nutrient-dense flours will assist in diversifying diets of consumers, especially poor households who cannot afford a balanced diet every day. Agriculture in Africa is growing and embracing new technologies and moving to great lengths in mechanization for value addition. We have also realized that markets are the biggest lever of Agriculture; hence the market will drive the demands for agricultural products needed. With this growth, Africa will not just feed itself but feed the world too.’’ Adebisi Araba

Regional Director for CIAT Africa

“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

Director General , KALRO

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

Principal Secretary, State Department of Agricultural Research

In Uganda, the launch of the Super Kawomera porridge flour was officiated by a senior nutritionist in the Ministry of Health, Ms. Sarah Ngalombi. Speaking at the launch, Ms. Ngalombi expressed her excitement about the new product indicating that the new porridge flour will play an important role in addressing nutrition challenges in the country. “‘Many children in Uganda are fed empty calories, resulting in high rates of hidden hunger, for example, 50 percent of children are anemic. The Super Kawomera instant porridge flour provides micronutrients such as iron and zinc which prevent anemia and promote brain development thus enhancing children’s health and education” She stated.
Figure 7: Ms. Sarah Ngalombi, Senior Nutritionist in the Ministry of Health, Uganda, launching the Super Kawomera product

Figure 2: Ms. Sarah Ngalombi, Senior Nutritionist in the Ministry of Health, Uganda, launching the Super Kawomera product

Acknowledging the importance of research and partnerships, Prof. Dorothy Nakimbugwe from Makerere University and the Director of Nutreal Ltd indicated that it has been very beneficial to her company collaborating in the project with research organizations and farmers. “We take research findings beyond publications in University library shelves to the communities where they are most needed and are used to improve nutrition, health and livelihoods. Super Kawomera is a good example of that”, she stated.
Figure 3: Left Prof. Dorothy Nakimbugwe Director Nutreal Ltd, speaking to Dr. Stanley Nkalubo from NARO

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.

“The Super Kawomera is a nutritious multi-composite porridge flour made from local ingredients and it is good especially for children and women, but also other members of the family. Sourcing Super Kawomera raw materials directly from farmers’ organizations ensures traceability but also provides farmers with a sustainable market and higher incomes.” Dr. Stanley Nkalubo

Team Leader and Breeder, Legumes Research Program, National Crops Resource Research Institute (NaCCRI), Uganda

During the launch events in both countries, participants had a porridge tasting session where they were served the new variants of porridge.

Figure 5: Participants tasting the Tosha porridge in Kenya

Figure 6: Children drinking the Super Kawomera porridge, in Uganda

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).

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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

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