Contribution of cassava and cassava-based products to food and nutrition security in Migori County, Kenya
The promotion of cassava as a staple and food security crop is widespread in Africa, Kenya included. Overreliance on cassava as a sole energy provider could lead to malnutrition. Consumption of high hydro-cyanide levels from cassava products could lead to health complications for consumers. This study sought to establish the contribution of cassava consumption to nutrition in Migori County. A cross-sectional survey was carried out and data collected on households’ cassava production and consumption practices. Two hundred and fifty-three households were randomly selected and household farming heads interviewed in West Kanyamkago, Orango Central and Kamgundho locations as areas where cassava is predominantly grown. Seven cassava flour samples of different cassava varieties grown in the area were obtained from farmers. Analyses were done to determine the moisture, cyanide and protein contents on flour and cooked stiff porridge (ugali). Results indicated that 99.1% of the households were farming. They highly depended on sale of farm and livestock produce as income. Ninety four percent of the households consumed cassava, of which 88.4% produced cassava on their farms. The most preferred cassava variety was ‘Rateng’. The main cassava products
consumed were ugali (stiff porridge) and porridge. Majority of the households (95%) never consumed cassava leaves and were not aware that cassava leaves could be consumed. The cyanide level on average on dry flours was 53.23 mg/kg while on consumed cooked ugali was 13.44 mg/kg. These levels were above the maximum limit of 10 mg/kg recommended by WHO. Low average protein levels of <0.5 g/100 g were observed in the cooked ugali. This could pose a danger of protein energy malnutrition if no other sources are consumed by the household members. Cassava farming households in the study area require support to promote growth of low cyanide varieties in order to reduce intake.
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