KENYA – Grain amaranth was a staple of the ancient Aztecs’ diet. Rediscovered in the 1970s and heralded for its incredible nutritious properties, amaranth is an inexpensive and early-maturing crop that is easy to harvest and highly drought-tolerant. Grain amaranth is considered by many to be a “miracle crop,” accessible and extremely beneficial to the rural poor.
In Kenya, amaranth is known in local languages as Terere, Muchicha, Lidodo, and Alika and has, for the last 30 years, gained popularity, especially for its green leaves. The last few years have shown a rise in appreciation for the grain itself and you can now find grain amaranth flour and popped amaranth in supermarkets throughout the country.
We recently traveled in western Kenya and had our eye on amaranth production there. The farmers we visited have benefited economically and health-wise from this harvest. One farmer in the village of Sitabicha told us that he was able to build a new home for his family from the proceeds of his crops! And, while many there may not understand the science behind amaranth’s nutritional benefits, many were quick to testify to positive health changes that they have seen in their families after regular consumption of the crop.
There is considerable potential for expansion in both production and consumption of this crop throughout Kenya. We noted during our travels through western Kenya, that farmers there plant under an acre of amaranth and cite marketing and sales of their product as a key challenge to moving beyond household production and consumption.
World Renew Kenya will continue to promote this valuable crop and integrate it into the food security programs we are currently implementing through our partners here. As appreciation for amaranth’s miraculous properties grows, we celebrate the opportunities for health, livelihoods, and transformation that it provides.
World Renew Kenya
Naomi Makau works with Anglican Development Services in amaranth and beekeeping promotion and was a key contributor to this story.