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