Kenyans shift from ugali to rice as it’s faster, eas­ier to cook

Mathenge says small-scale farm­ers in­cur pro­duc­tion costs of about Sh1,650 per bag of maize. Large-scale farm­ers in­cur pro­duc­tion costs of Sh1,300 per bag

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Ministries - AGATHA NGOTHO @agath­ang­otho

Kenyans ap­pear to be shift­ing from tra­di­tional ugali to rice be­cause it’s faster and eas­ier to boil.

This is in­di­cated by a study by the Tege­meo In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­tural and De­vel­op­ment on the com­pet­i­tive­ness of key sta­ples and im­pli­ca­tions for food se­cu­rity and pric­ing.

Dr Mary Mathenge, a di­rec­tor at the Tege­meo In­sti­tute, yes­ter­day at­trib­uted the ‘sur­pris­ing’ trend to the high cost of maize pro­duc­tion and in­puts.

She said small-scale farm­ers in­cur pro­duc­tion costs of about Sh1,650 per bag of maize. Large-scale farm­ers pay Sh1,300 per bag.

“This find­ing is sur­pris­ing, be­cause nat­u­rally you wouldn’t ex­pect the con­sump­tion of rice to go up at the ex­pense of ugali for ru­ral and ur­ban house­holds, par­tic­u­larly the poor. This is bear­ing in mind that rice is quite ex­pen­sive in the mar­ket. They may be pre­fer­ring rice be­cause it is eas­ier to boil,” Mathenge said.

The av­er­age price of a 1kg packet of rice is Sh120-Sh150. A 2kg packet of maize flour is Sh102-Sh108.

The re­search es­tab­lishes con­sump­tion pat­terns of maize and other key sta­ple food in Kenya, such as rice, pota­toes and ba­nanas. Mathenge time may be a real fac­tor, even to the poor and they want to put some­thing quickly on the ta­ble and go look for ca­sual jobs.

Re­searcher Kevin Onyango also at­trib­uted the shift to the need to di­ver­sify to other types of food. “The con­sump­tion pat­terns of both ru­ral and ur­ban house­holds is slowly chang­ing from ugali to a meal of rice at the ta­ble. We see many house­holds ex­tend their bas­ket to in­clude more foods and that is where rice is com­ing in,” he said.

The study also shows the con­sump­tion of poshomill maize flour is de­clin­ing across all re­gions that were stud­ied.

Mathenge said the trend ob­served in Septem­ber showed peo­ple are re­duc­ing their con­sump­tion of poshomill maize flour and in­creas­ing con­sump­tion of the sifted one. Some of the sifted maize flour brands in Kenya are Jo­goo, Soko, and Pembe.

Mathenge said con­sumers say its’ quicker to cook the sifted maize meal and it tastes bet­ter than the poshomill flour. “When they cal­cu­late the time to go look for grains, take them to the mill and the cook­ing time, they find it takes too long. They find it eas­ier to go to the su­per­mar­ket and buy maize flour and use the time used to get grains and take to the mill else­where,” she said.

/AGATHA NGOTHO

Mary Mathenge ad­dresses stake­hold­ers while re­leas­ing the re­port on chang­ing trends on maize and rice con­sump­tion at the Panafric Ho­tel yes­terda

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