Professor Violet Mugalavai, a food specialist, has been struggling for several years to find nutritious flour in the core market.
In 2014, she began difficult research, the purpose of which is to find her own fortified flour. It took her three years of research to find the right ingredients and create a quality nutritious product.
Professor Violet Mugalawai
Professor Mugalawai, who specializes in nutrition at the University of Eldoret (located in the city of Kenya of the same name), nevertheless found the right formula for nutritious flour. The purpose of her research is to solve the problem of malnutrition and food shortages in Kenya in particular and in Africa as a whole. This was reported by the website Business Daily Africa
Alternative to chemicals
“The problem is that most of the flour on the market is enriched with chemicals that are significantly different from those made from natural ingredients – fruits and vegetables. Natural ingredients make it possible to get healthier flour compared to most of its varieties on the market, ”explains Violet Mugalawai.
Note! Partially cooked flour contains nutrients from sweet potatoes (sweet potato), orange pulp and amaranth seeds.
Enriched flour is produced in the university’s food laboratory. The product is also approved by the Kenyan Bureau of Standards (Kebs) – fulfilling established standards for products suitable for human consumption.
The expert on products notes that from the created product you can cook instant porridge or steamed, which takes less than 30 seconds or a minute, respectively.
By the way! Ugali, also pop – the main dish of the diet of the African ethnic group Kalendzhin. Distributed in many countries of southern and southeast Africa under various names. Wikipedia
“First, we grind corn or sorghum, then mix with various dry and ground additives, such as vegetables and fruits. Then we use an electric dehydrator to partially cook them, ”says Professor Mugalawai.
The electric food dehydrator at the university food processing laboratory is one of the reliable drying methods compared to freezing, as it is done once.
“The electric dryer is equipped with a heat exchanger as a heat source and a thermostat that controls the temperature around 50 ° C. The dryer also has a fan that provides a cooling effect, ”said Violet Mugalawai, adding that it is possible to dry the fruits of vegetables and then use them for the next three months.
This is one of the innovations demonstrated during the recent agribusiness exhibition at Eldoret University.
“A tablespoon of flour is taken – this is enough to make a mug of porridge. Then add hot water (100 ° C) and stir for 30 seconds until it becomes thick enough. Then the porridge is ready to eat, ”says Professor Mugalawai.
In retail stores, flour is sold in packages of 500 grams. Only about 50 kilograms of flour can be cooked daily – due to the small size of the processing plant. This means that the university produces 100 packages that will be sold at retail for a total of 20,000 shillings (a little less than $ 200). The professor hopes to work with large companies to expand their market.
“We look forward to working with well-known food companies on the market to improve product quality,” says Professor Mugalawai.
She says the demand for flour developed at the university has grown significantly. Some of their clients are hospitals and hotels in the city of Eldoret.
The researcher notes that some of their target customers live in semi-arid and arid districts.
Prof. Mugalawai added that this was part of a project to reduce post-harvest losses in the agricultural sector, which ranges from 20 to 40 percent. Other flour ingredients, such as sorghum, grams, green banana, and cow peas, are tested before Kebs approves.
Kenya is one of the countries suffering from food shortages. For example, data from the Kenyan National Statistical Bureau in 2018 showed that at least 29.9 percent of children under five years of age throughout the country are moderately stunted and another 13 percent are underweight because they do not receive enough nutrients for optimal physical and mental development.
According to the report, most cases of malnutrition occur due to food shortages, poverty, which could deprive Kenya of its intellectual capital in the future if the problem is not resolved. Professor Mugalawai believes that she “killed two birds with one stone”, helping reduce the incidence of malnutrition and helping reduce post-harvest losses of agricultural enterprises