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Goodbye ugali, Kenya grows less maize flour

Other cereals and even spaghetti on the table

13-09-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo

Goodbye "ugali", Kenyans begin to prefer other flours and cereals, and on the tables of the country also sprouts spaghetti.
There are many reasons which can lead to the change of food production in a country and, as a consequence, to the change of eating habits.
They range from the well-known problems connected to climate and harvests, to the widening of the range of social inequalities, up to new cultivation techniques which allow even small farmers to save money and have more satisfaction from products they previously did not consider.
And here, for example, is how in Kenya maize flour is no longer the main sustenance of the population but is undergoing a constant decrease that leads to the slow disappearance of ugali, one of the national dishes, from the Kenyan table. Little by little, other types of cereals are being added to the traditional maize flour polenta, which are not only competitive for their price on the market, but can also be cultivated by those who have the classic vegetable garden ("shamba" in Kenya, meaning field) with less expense and more quantity.
The change in culinary habits is also visible in many small local stores, where, for example, pasta is starting to be sold (and purchased, even for the less affluent). Spaghetti produced by local companies that replace polenta or rice as an accompaniment to the main (and often only) dish of the day. In local markets it happens to see big pots with pasta timbales (often cooked with tomato and eggs) which are sold in slices. As has always been the case in many nations of West Africa, often not blessed by the fertility of Kenya, cassava flour is a staple food and even in East Africa, cassava is increasingly present and cultivated. In addition to making flour and polenta, cassava is eaten boiled or fried like a potato and its price is low and constant. Another product that is increasingly in the homes and huts of Kenyans is the sweet potato. Its ease of cultivation, with three harvests a year, little need for water and resistance to insects and other soil threats, make it an essential food of the present and future. Thus, cornmeal polenta is replaced with mashed potatoes or sweet potato preparations. The ugali's demise is also being monitored by the international economy.
According to an American research of the data company "Knoema", in 2020, the production of wheat in Kenya was 300,000 tons. With a reduction of more than 20% compared to the previous year, and this year's trend is expected to confirm a further decrease. According to Kenyan experts, the consumption of food products based on wheat and cereals has now surpassed that of maize flour throughout the country". In addition to prices, among the problems encountered by farmers, one of the main problems of maize is the losses that occur after harvesting, especially due to humid conditions. The "cartel" of large distribution companies that continually raise and lower prices is certainly another determining factor.

 

TAGS: farina kenyamais kenyapatate kenyaspaghetti kenyaproduzione kenyaagricoltura kenya

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