Malnutrition, Post-harvest losses (PHLs) and aflatoxins in developing countries are three major challenges that require intervention to reduce the number of hungry and malnutrition people, especially in developing countries. In Uganda for example, PHLs are more than 26% of the total agricultural production and these extremely affect subsistence/smallholder farmers. In Uganda, more than 68% of the population depend entirely on agriculture for survival. Uganda loses more than $38 million (Ugandan Shillings 140 billion) because of the failure to export grains due to aflatoxins and PHLs. In 2013 alone, more than 600,000 tons of maize worth $2.7 million (Uganda Shillings ten (10) billion) destined for neighboring Kenya was rejected because they contained traces of aflatoxin. Many smallholder/substance farmers are not aware of aflatoxins, yet these are dangerous carcinogens that are killing people in developing countries.
Besides, according to the Ministry of Health in Uganda, more than 2.3 million young children are chronically malnourished and in addition 16% of children under 5 years are underweight while 6% are wasted and 12% of women are malnourished thus putting the levels of malnutrition at an acceptable rate in Uganda yet the population is increasing with time in Uganda.
The innovation(s) to solve malnutrition, PHLs and aflatoxins is to encourage, sensitize, and help farmers to grow grain amaranth while at the same time using it as a natural/pesticide free method to minimize PHLs and aflatoxins. Dr. Bbosa has done research on the mentioned innovations and thus he is looking for funds to scale the innovations.
Amaranth belongs to the order Caryophyllales, family Amaranthaceae, subfamily Amaranthoideae, genus Amaranthus and it is used as a vegetable, food, forage and some as ornamental while others are weeds. Grain Amaranth (GA) can grow in diverse conditions and it’s pollinated by wind and/or insects. GA fills the corn/maize kernel inter-granular spaces which by doing so restrict maize weevil movement to access kernels thus contributing to weevil mortality and quality control.
On the other hand, amaranth has higher protein content (high in the amino acid lysine that is a limiting factor in cereals like maize, rice, and wheat.) compared to other cereals thus making it a good grain for human consumption and to help remedy world hunger and malnutrition and besides, it is nutritious with high amounts of vitamin C, iron, beta carotene, folic acid. Amaranth leaves and stems may be eaten in either raw or in cooked form as any vegetables whereas its seed can be milled into flour or popped. It’s reported to be of benefit for people suffering from HIV/AIDS and for those using anti-retroviral drugs. Amaranth oil effects of lowering total serum triglycerides and density lipoproteins (LDL) have been reported in animal & human studies. The GA benefits are summarized below;
- High protein – For growth, bodybuilding & repair
- GA protein is well balanced – Essential amino acids comparable to milk
- GA proteins are highly digestible – Suitable for all ages and conditions
- High in calcium – Two times the level in milk – for strong bones & teeth
- GA is high in iron – Prevents anaemia
- High in fiber – Lowers body cholesterol & prevents colon cancer
- Lower calories than other grains – for weight control.
- Low fat & high proportion of ‘good fats’ 7% fat & 75% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) – Prevents heart disease
- High in antioxidants – vitamin E (compares to olive oil) for heart health, anti-cancer and anti-ageing
- Low glycemic index – Beneficial to diabetics
This innovation hits tthree birds with one stone i.e. reducing PHLs and aflatoxins and fighting malnutrition.