How Does Amaranth, Ancient Crop of the Aztecs Help People in Africa?
During the past 2 weeks East African people have shared many stories about how grain amaranth flour, and eating the leaves, too—-has helped them enormously! People living with AIDs whose CD-4 counts sat in the low hundreds see their count and their strength rise steadily after getting the anti-retro-viral meds and taking amaranth porridge every morning for breakfast! People appreciate the way they can eat the leaves, the fact that amaranth crops take only 70 to 80 days from planting to harvest (at the equator), the way amaranth mixes well with their staple foods, and the way they feel so much more healthy when they eat it. It’s amazing to see the way the amaranth work we began in 1999, in just two villages in Kenya has now spread to Uganda and Tanzania.
(Recipe: Boil 3 parts of corn or millet flour in clean water with some sugar for about 10 minutes, then add one part amaranth flour and continue to heat for another five minutes. Maybe add some cinnamon, and maybe some vanilla, too—-if you want a little more taste. You should aim to take in about 40 grams of amaranth flour per day, or 20 grams per day for children.) Not only do people living with AIDs praise amaranth! Old men claim new strength and virility, healthy women claim pregnancy and kicking babies in their wombs, mothers claim healthy post-weaned infants.
There is so much need for follow up research to explain the whys! How does amaranth affect the immune system and CD-4 count? Is it the high lysine content of amaranth, the balance of the amino acids in amaranth? Could it be that people are so malnourished on their starch-based diets that they respond dramatically to a little added and balanced protein? I so wish that research funding would go toward amaranth!
Sara Sytsma, World Renew volunteer in Uganda has written an excellent blog story about our evaluation in the Lango area of Uganda:http://anthsara.blogspot.com/2014/05/amaranth-evaluation.html Thanks for this, Sara!
Marketing: The biggest complaint of amaranth farmers in Uganda is that when they produce a surplus there is no ready way to sell their amaranth. We need some good business people to help! But, in Kenya one of World Renew’s former partner organizations, the Anglican Development Service of Western Kenya, organized farmers to have collection points and also flour milling. There you can find amaranth flour in the supermarkets!