The culture of threshing maize grains and throwing away the cob might soon come to an end following an innovation to process edible flour from maize cobs. Many communities either throw away the cob or use it as animal feeds or fuel but this could change if this innovation is embraced.
Simon Mwaura, a biochemist and Hyaquip Kenya chief executive officer, has come up with a new way of milling the maize together with the cob to produce whole meal flour through organic synthesis, a clear way of extracting parameter from tissues and various concentrations.
He says the cob contains very vital minerals to the human body such as potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamins and hence should not be thrown away.
"I have been studying and evaluating this project since 1996 and started by extracting nutrients from the maize cobs before producing it," he said during a demonstration exercise in Al's Posho Mill in Umoja II Community market.
Mwaura confirmed that he wrote a letter to the national commission for science technology and innovation asking for a permit to do the promotion and carry out further development of the technology but they declined.
However, he has not commercialised the whole maize flour as he is yet to get a go ahead from the ministry of public health. Alice Kamene Kyalo, proprietor Al's Posho Mill, says she started her posho mill business in 2007 milling maize to grade 1 flour level.
There were not many people doing this business so she had many customers including schools. She now wants to introduce maize cob flour to her customers.
"Before you sell anything to customers you have to try it yourself and I have been preparing porridge with the flour. It's nutritious, sweet and it tastes different, I feel energized and I don't get hungry quickly. So far a number of customers have expressed interest in buying this flour which is good for porridge and Ugali," she said.
Mwaura adds that the flour would also suit diabetic people as it increases metabolism and keeps the tissues supple thus reducing inflammation. "The mineral content in the flour is very high thus making it suitable for diabetic people to improve their health. The flour is also alkaline with a PH scale of 8.0 which is good for building a healthy body," he said.
Mwaura said an alkaline diet is key for optimizing vitality because they keep tissues supple and reduces inflammation, which is the culprit in several disease processes like arthritis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel disorders, and even cancer.
"This maize cob flour alkalises ones body and also builds and strengthens bone, thereby reducing the incidence of osteoporosis. I use the maize cobs as a bulking material due to its huge volume in addition to its nutritional value. If you compare the volume of the thrashed maize to the cobs the latter has a larger volume and thus can serve as a bulking material," he said.
Mwaura says that if the technology is adopted, many people from drought-stricken areas would not starve due to lack of food. "With this flour one will only require little amount as compared to the normal flour because it swells to a bigger volume and makes one feel full for a longer period of time," he remarked.
He further said that people from dry areas can largely benefit from this technology because they usually have low crop production. "If the technology is adopted it would help reduce food wastage especially now that the country has been experiencing acute crop failure. I believe this is one of the ways we can be able to boost food security in the country and people shall be getting nutritious meals at an affordable price," he said, adding that a two kilogram pack shall be retailing at Sh80.