chia seeds farming in kenya
Dr Monica attending to the Chia crop at DeKUT Farm

Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) is a traditional food crop belonging to Lamiacea family, native of Central and Southern America. It is widely consumed for various health benefits especially in maintaining healthy serum lipid level contributed by phenolic acid, omega-3 and omega-6 oil present in the chia seed.

It is a plant of great economic importance to many Native American tribes in California, who have long used chia for food and medicinal purposes. Salvia hispanica L. acquired the common name chia from the indigenous South American people of the pre-Columbian and Aztec eras due to its medicinal uses.

Chia seed and leaves are known to be protein-rich with good balance of essential amino acids making it suitable for malnourished children and adults who need better access to protein-rich food supply. The use of food with neutraceutical and functional properties for management of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems is now gaining momentum among the public.

The Institute of Food Bioresources Technology, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) is promoting chia crop cultivation among the small holder farmers and its incorporation into the locally existing products. Dr. Monica Mburu (Ph.D.), a Food Science Researcher works in collaboration with farmers in Nyeri County, where the crop has great potential.


Chia Seeds products developed at DeKUT
at an exhibition.
In Kenya demand for functional food with multiple health benefits has increased with increasing public health awareness worldwide. Chia seed and leaves are protein-rich with good balance of essential amino acids. It can enhance the nutrition status of food crop and fit in rotational farming. Chia seeds contain almost of all the essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants and minerals essential for optimum growth and development in good proportions. This is a superior food especially for infant complementary feeding. The high amount of alpha omega-3 is important in lowering the risk of cardiovascular heart disease.

Chia is more suitable in the food industry due to its important physiochemical and functional properties. It is an excellent agent in food thickening, gel formation, chelator, foam enhancement, emulsification, suspension formation, clarifying agent and as a rehydrating agent. This makes it commercially viable for the development of new products enriched with omega-3, protein, soluble/ insoluble fiber and phenolic compounds.

Research has shown that, chia seeds are also beneficial to animal feeds, where their addition resulted in a rise of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and a reduction of cholesterol levels in eggs and meat.

Chia seeds Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water making it easy to mix them into cooked cereal or other dishes.
They can be eaten raw or incorporated in the diet to reap the positive benefits, including:
  • Making a chia gel by adding a tablespoon in a glass of warm/hot water, cover for 5-10 minutes and drink on an empty stomach.
  • Adding a tablespoonful to the smoothie for protein and fat boost.
  • Sprinkling the seeds on your cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables.
  • Adding to baked goods.
  • Using as an egg substitute in baking: Add a tablespoon of ground chia with 3 tablespoons of water, per egg in a recipe.
  • Mixing with flour and seasoning when making a breaded fish, chicken or veggie dish, for that wonderful nutty flavour and crunch.
Ref: An extract of the 7th Graduation Souvenir Magazine: DeKUT

chia seeds farming pdf
Chia seeds farming guide
If you would like to start chia seeds farming, we have put together this simple but comprehensive guide to help you through land preparation to harvesting. 

You can request for your copy here or through the Resources Page

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