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Grain Amaranth

Amaranth is known in local language as Terere (Kikuyu), muchicha (Kiswahili, Ngiriama), Lidodo, (Luyha), alika(Luo).

Amaranth is a “pseudo-cereal” (a non-grass cereal). Amaranths are “pseudo-cereals” because of their  flavor and cooking similarities to grains) that has high nutritional and medicinal value. There are more than 60 species and between 4000 – 6000 varieties.

These species are divided into four classes as follows:-

  • Grain
  • Vegetables
  • Ornamental
  • Weeds
A grain Amaranth crop at grain filling stage

A grain Amaranth crop at grain filling stage

Grain Amaranth is becoming an important crop for the following reasons:-

  • It is an inexpensive crop that can be grown by the rural poor
  • It is easily harvested
  • It is early maturing producing a lot of seed/grain
  • Highly tolerant to drought
  • Highly nutritive with high quality proteins (lysine and methionine) and  high levels of vitamins and dietary fibres.
  • The Grain is highly palatable and can be used raw, cooked, popped or milled to flour. White or golden coloured grains are recommended for consumption.  Other uses include green leaves as vegetables, Amaranth oil extract and animal feed.
A mature amaranth crop ready for harvest in Lugari District-Kenya

A mature amaranth crop ready for harvest in Lugari District-Kenya

Key Policy Issues

Key areas of policy concerns are:-

  • Increasing agricultural productivity and incomes especially for smallholder farmers
  • Emphasis on irrigation to reduce over-reliance on rainfed agriculture in the face of limited high potential agricultural land
  • Encouraging diversification into non- traditional agricultural commodities and value addition to reduce vulnerability
  • Enhancing the food security and reduction in the no. of those suffering from hunger and hence the achievement of the MDGs
  • Encouraging private-sector led development of the sector
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability

Other opportunities  in the Amaranth Enterprise

  • Seed production – contract farmers to produce seed
  • Livestock feed – growing of amaranth as forage and also manufacturing livestock feeds
  • Industrial use – Squalene is a special component in amaranth oil which is used as an important in skin cosmetic preparation, pharmaceutical industries and as a lubricant in servicing computers
  • Production of edible oil for domestic purposes

References

  • Introduction to Amaranth second Edition Africa Amaranth Institute series by Davidson Mwangi
  • Amaranth productionGuide 1997 E.Weber,Okumu et al
  • Grain Amaranth Production Handbook by Davidson K Mwangi
  • Smallholder Grain Amaranth commercial Farmer,  A RRI on Poverty
  • Reduction Ministry of Planning & National Development  January 2006
  • Nutritive value, health Benefits and Selected Recipes of sweet potato,banana, Soya beans and Grain amaranth-MoA( 2006)
  • www.infonet_biovision.org
  • www.Liseed.org
  • www.incas.co.ke
  • www.prodigyweb.net.mx
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