Farmer fetching Sh1,500 per kg from rare chia magic seed

A graduate in Kiambu County's Kahawa Estate has dared and ventured into chia 'magical' seed farming to meet the growing demand for organic-based food health solutions.

Antony Kabui, a Biochemical and Processing Engineering graduate from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, set foot into this farming after a series of trials that showed chia were on demand and they could do well in western Uganda.

 “Chia seeds have become one of the most popular superfoods in the health community. They are easy to digest with versatile ingredient that can be easily added easily into recipes. One Chia seed is nutrient dense and packs a punch of energy boosting power. Do not be fooled to dismiss them by their size.

The multiple nutrient value of the seed makes it a choice for health conscious population.

“These seeds have multiple health benefits. There is growing urge to eat healthy and safe foods. Chia seeds, are wholesome answer to a number of challenges besides being energy foods,” he said.

The seeds, which he sells at Sh1,500 per kilo on wholesale and Sh200 per 100 grammes on retain, require special places to thrive.

That is why Kabui tried the seeds in western Uganda, where research showed they could do well.  

“Chia seeds are delicate and sensitive to soil chemicals. Cultivation land has to be virgin. This means only natural nutrients are in the soil. as nutrients get depleted, only organic manure can replenish them, otherwise you will not have any harvest.” he said.

Together with a consultant, who was also his lecture, Kabui has contracted farmers in Uganda to deliver the harvest. He supply the farmers with the required inputs, and buy the harvest from them after four months.

Magic seed

Market is warming up to these seeds originating from Mexico and South America for health benefits.

According to Authority Nutrition, the seeds have 6 per cent water, 46 per cent carbohydrates, 34 per cent fat and 19 per cent protein when dry.

With more than 95 per cent of fibre in the carbohydrates being insoluble, studies have associated this characteristic to reduced debates risks.

Because of the high fibre content, chia is an ingredient the baking industry in Europe. Fibre enhances digestion in animals, effectively preventing constipation.

The US Academy of Nutrition and Diatects says chia is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Calcium is essential in formation of strong bones while iron helps in blood synthesis.

It is also said the seeds have higher level of Omega 3 fatty acids than tuna and salmon fish per gram. The fatty acid are crucial in brain growth and functioning. They also promote vision.

The University of Meryland Medical Centre says they help reduce inflammation of body organs besides decreasing risks of chronic diseases such as heart attack, cancer as well as arthritis.

The super seed is also associated with phenolic (anti-oxidants), which speed up skin repair mechanisms and prevent further damage. Consumers are said to have slow aging skins, because it prevents premature inflammation and damage.

Chia seeds drastically reduce the rate absorption of minerals and desire for food. Eaters feel full for long periods, effectively reducing intervals of eating, which will ultimately reduce one's weight.

“Chia seeds mix easily in to other foods and have little flavour of their own. They can be eaten raw, sprinkled on foods or soaked in fluids like. Juice, porridge, water, puddings, sauces, tea among others,” the agripreneur said.

Kibui can be reached on +254700325000