KENYA – The Kenyan government is seeking to enact a regulation that will require millers to include other local, under-consumed grains such as cassava, millet, and sorghum in flour blends to ensure sufficient production of food.
The government is making commitment to enhance food security by including the subsistence-produced crops into the national food chain, something that aims to tackle food deficit resulting from prolonged drought conditions.
According to People Daily, the law will mandate millers to develop formulations based on sorghum, millet, cassava and maize flour blends to improve consumers’ nutritional value by enhancing dietary diversity, and ease pressure from reliance on maize.
This is part of the government’s Big Four agenda in ensuring food security by boosting smallholder productivity with a focus on maize, potato, rice and other crop produce.
In 2012, the Kenyan government joined more than 159 countries which have endorsed the World Declaration on Nutrition by passing mandatory food fortification legislation, meant to reduce prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
The country’s fight against malnutrition received US$43.5million boost in European Union-funded food fortification projects meant to ensure essential ingredients are contained in the staple food items.
The campaign saw the Kenya Bureau of Standards issue a directive to manufacturers to fortify maize and wheat flours with vitamin A, iron, zinc and folic acid as a prerequisite to renewing their certificate of compliance.
Speaking at the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), officials from Ministry of Agriculture reiterated that apart from maize production, there was need to consider a number of policies focusing entirely on agriculture, food security and nutrition, including the cereals policy.
“Food and nutrition security is an important pillar in the realisation of the Big Four Agenda. Blended maize flour enhances both food and nutrition security.
As an initial step, maize flour blending shall include sorghum, millet and cassava because they are drought-tolerant and nutritious with high-calcium content,” said Dr Grace Chirchir, the deputy director of Agriculture in charge of agribusiness and value addition.
She added that priority could be given to diversification of food production in the country in order to reduce pressure on maize while promoting production of the orphaned crops.