The Jomo Kenyatta University in partnership with the Federal government of Mexico has launched a nixtamalization technology meant to control aflatoxin in cereal crops such as maize and make over 600 based maize products.
The technology would enable consumers reduce over reliance on maize, githeri and porridge and shift to flout blended with millet, sorghum, cassava among other crops.
The nixtamalization project aims to identify technologies for maize utilization used in Mexico that can be adopted in Kenya to increase diversification of maize based products to enhance the nutrition index and health status of the country.
Reduction of aflatoxin would enable children eat nutritious food thus reduce the chances of malnutrition with UNICEF report released in September 2017 indicating that 73,000 children in Kenya are malnourished and are at risk of dying due to hunger and eating of un-balanced food diets.
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One of the experts from Mexico (right) explains how the machine works. jkuat.ac.ke
According to UNICEF, highest rates of malnutrition were witnessed in East Pokot (5.8 per cent), Mandera (5.2 per cent), Samburu (3.8 per cent) and West Pokot (3.2 per cent).
The machine would enable maize to be treated with lime, cooked and dried to produce soft cooking flour and other related maize-based food products such as porridge flour in a process referred to as nixtamalization technology. This would help reduce post-harvest losses and help smallholder farmers earn from value addition of crops.
“I will be glad to see this technology actualized by JKUAT and further promoted to benefit small scale local farmers in Kenya,” said Dr. Johnson Irungu, the directorate of agriculture in charge of crops and development.
Dr. Irungu said that the government will support the university in ensuring that over 100 small and medium enterprises are trained on the technology so as to empower them and achieve self-independence towards boosting food security.
The technology will be spearheaded by Mexican embassy in Kenya, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).