Nairobi — A new nutritious variety of sorghum seed was launched yesterday.
Unlike the traditional starch-rich sorghum, the genetically engineered variety contains protein and vitamin nutrients and can be easily digested.
It also contains high levels of vitamins A, E and D, iron, zinc and amino acids, said Dr Florence Wambugu, a coordinator of the Africa Biofortified Sorghum project.
Sorghum is the third leading staple food after maize and beans, and food experts say the breakthrough could help improve the country's food security.
"We wanted to provide lasting solutions by using biotechnology to create a 'super sorghum,'" she said. The new variety will also prevent malnutrition especially in children and elderly people.
Modern genetic engineering techniques that were used in the successful development of Bt Maize by the US-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International were applied in the project, he said.
"Biotech tools have allowed scientists to take genes discovered through corn research and introduce them to sorghum to discover the nutritional improvements, " she told reporters at a Nairobi hotel yesterday.
"Sorghum is one of the few crops that grow well in arid areas, but is deficient in most essential nutrients. It is also difficult to digest when cooked," said another official, Mr Paul Anderson.