INCAS Presentation: Commercialization Of Amaranth In Kenya PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 03 August 2011 04:53

Njeri, R., Fatuma, Kinyanjui, M. And Mwangi, D. M.


Approximately 80% of Kenya is classified as arid and semi arid and 25% of the human population live in these areas. These areas receive low and erratic rainfall and are therefore associated with frequent drought, food insecurity and high poverty levels especially among women headed households. Global climate change is expected to impact negatively on these areas making food and nutritional security worse than it is at the moment. Therefore, strategies that will help the communities living in these areas adapt to climate change are required. The strategies include appropriate dryland crops like sorghum, amaranth grain among others. INCAS a limited liability company has been processing fortified food for the last 5 years. We process maize, wheat flour fortified with amaranth plus a pure amaranth uji flour and distribute them in supermarkets countrywide.  The main emphasis is the processing of whole grain using a state-of- the-art technology to make high quality products for health and vitality. INCAS is producing a range of healthy products including maize, wheat and pure amaranth flours. Most of our products are fortified with amaranth grain. Amaranth grain is a crop originating from the ancient civilizations of South America and a perfect natural health food with a delicious and nutty flavour. It is high in protein and contains 8 essential amino-acids. Also rich in minerals and vitamins, antioxidants and rare oils like squalene. This makes amaranth the perfect natural health food and INCAS is using the grain to produce healthy products but the supply of high quality raw material (amaranth grain) has been a major problem. The amount produced locally is low and the quality poor. INCAS has been forced to import grain from India to supplement the little amount available in the country. Therefore in 2010, INCAS approached KASAL and formed a public-private partnership with the aim of improving quality and production of amaranth grain in the country. In this partnership, KASAL provides improved amaranth varieties, good quality seed, research on diseases and pests, good agronomic practices through field demonstrations and technical backstopping while INCAS provides a guaranteed market and price for the farmers. Demonstrations were carried out in Yatta, Machakos and Kitui districts during the long rains in 2010 and good results are streaming in. Esther Kingoo in Yatta district, Ndalani division, Mamba village planted approximately ¼ acre of amaranth and has harvested 250 kg valued at KES 12,500 with an estimated cost of about KES 5,000. This underlines the potential of this drought tolerant crop and the ability it has not only to improve nutrition in the dry areas of Eastern Kenya but also to address the poverty problem. This project is therefore addressing the aspirations of Vision 2030 and Millennium Development Goal Number 1 on food security and eradication of poverty and enhancement of nutritional status of communities.          


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