Amaranth(Terere) Farming in Kenya.

In Kenya, if you are enjoying the staple meal “Ugali”, it is oftenly accompanied by traditional vegetables commonly knowns as “mboga za kienyeji”. The traditional vegetables are a mixture of a number of vegetables among them being amaranth that we call ‘terere’ in my native language. We also have other names like Mchicha, lidodo, ododo in many other languages.

Terere plant.

Amaranth farming in Kenya is gaining popularity due to its ability to thrive in diverse climates and soil conditions. Whether in the highlands of central Kenya, the arid regions of the north, or the coastal areas, amaranth can be cultivated successfully, making it a crop that can be cultivated by anyone despite the region they are in.

Sustainable farming practices.

Before digging deeper into other concepts of amaranth, let me talk about its sustainable farming. In an era marked by concerns over environmental degradation and climate change, sustainable farming practices are crucial. Amaranth cultivation aligns well with principles of sustainability due to its low water requirements, minimal use of chemical inputs, and ability to improve soil health.

Nutritional content of amaranth.

Amaranth is not just like any other leafy green vegetable but a vegetable that is packed with essential proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

  1. Protein: Amaranth is considered a high-quality plant-based protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids, including lysine, which typically lacks in many grains.
  2. Dietary Fiber: Amaranth is rich in dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health, regulated blood sugar levels, and helps maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Vitamins: Amaranth is a good source of various vitamins, including vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Vitamin B2, B3 and B9.
  4. Minerals: This vegetable is rich in minerals like calcium which is crucial for bone health, iron which is essential for oxygen transport and energy production, magnesium for supporting muscles and nerve function, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
  5. Antioxidants: Amaranth contains various antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals and protect against oxidative stress and chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Economic opportunities.

Beyond its nutritional benefits, amaranth farming presents significant economic opportunities for Kenyan farmers. With growing demand for nutritious foods both domestically and internationally, amaranth has the potential to become a lucrative cash crop. It fast growing nature allows for multiple harvest in a single growing season, providing farmers with a steady income stream.

Value added products of amaranth.

  • Amaranth flour- It is ground from amaranth seeds. The flour is gluten free and rich in protein, making it an ideal alternative for individuals with gluten sensitivities or those seeking to increase their protein intake. It can be used in baking bread, muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods.
  • Amaranth snacks- Amaranth grains can be popped like popcorn and seasoned to create nutritious crunchy snacks.
  • Amaranth porridge – It grains can be cooked into a creamy porridge, similar to oatmeal
  • Amarantha pasta- Amaranth flour can be used to make gluten- free pasta, offering a nutritious alternative to traditional wheat -based pasta.
  • Amaranth leaf powder- Dried amaranth leaves can be ground into a fine powder and used as a nutritional supplement or seasoning. Amaranth leaf powder is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a valuable addition to smoothies, soups, sauces, and seasoning blends.

Serious amaranth farming in Kenya can not only enhance food security, nutrition, and income generation but also foster a more inclusive and sustainable agricultural system that benefits the farmers and consumers as well.