Hidden hunger is a big problem in Eastern Africa. It refers to a chronic deficiency of micronutrients, where people eat and don’t feel hungry but lack the vitamins and minerals they need for their growth and development. Its effects can be devastating, leading to mental impairment, poor health, low productivity, even death.
The majority of Eastern African diets are not widely varied, and comprise mainly of staples such as maize, rice, millet and sorghum. In addition, 60% of food purchased by urban consumers is processed but often lacks nutritional density. Paradoxically, a lot of it is made using locally available traditional grains, most of which is nutrient rich. The problem is how the grains are treated from farm to final food . For example, when polishing rice and refining wheat, 60–90% of the micronutrients are lost, turning them into sources of empty calories.
A solution to this is hydrothermal processing. It is a proven, water and heat-based method which increases bioavailability of micronutrients such as iron, zinc and calcium in grains by up to 300%. It enables our bodies to more easily absorb minerals and has the potential to be a leading method to combat hidden hunger.
The SIANI Expert group will in 2020 work with partners Hidden in Grains and BioInnovate Africa to address hidden hunger in Eastern Africa. We will first launch a campaign so we can share knowledge with as many local food companies and policy makers as possible, on how to bring back the use of locally grown traditional grains and hydrothermal processing.
For more information about the project, please contact Ana Perez Aponte firstname.lastname@example.org.
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