In a bid to reduce the poisonous aflatoxin found in maize, as well as improve on food security in the country, the Federal Government of Mexico has expressed its commitment to encourage Kenyans to adopt nixtamalization technology.
The Mexican Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Erasmo Martinez while making his remarks when he visited JKUAT, June 8, 2020, said the technology had the potential of reducing the problem of aflatoxin that has plagued maize farmers across the country, thereby significantly transforming the nutritional profile of maize-based food products.
The Ambassador who also visited the University’s enterprise (JKUATES) informed those present that the Government of Mexico considers the nixtamalization technology transfer as one of the paramount projects in the bilateral cooperation with Kenya.
While acknowledging the nutritional value nixtamalization offers, Ambassador Martinez was confident that if the technology was adopted throughout the country, Kenya, through JKUAT, would become a hub for the technology, thus enhancing the economic growth of the country.
The Federal Government of Mexico through the Ministry of Agriculture had donated a nixtamalization machine to JKUAT domiciled at JKUAT Enterprises (JKUATES) in 2018 which gave birth to the beneficial collaboration between the Mexican Embassy in Kenya and JKUAT.
The Ambassador who earlier paid a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi in her office, urged the University to take advantage of the collaboration and enhance interactions between nixtamalization experts in Mexico and JKUAT researchers through technology brought to the fore by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The collaboration is a win-win situation for both countries. It will see Mexico transfer its greatest technology to Kenya while on the other hand, Kenya would come up with new maize products that would change how people consume maize,” said Mr. Martinez.
Nixtamalization is a process in Mexico and Central America where corn is treated with lime, cooked, dried and ground to produce flour used to make over 600 maize-based food products, the common one being tortillas.
Prof. Ngumi while welcoming the ambassador to the University said JKUAT was honored to be part of the nixtamalization technology transfer initiative from Mexico to Kenya.
Prof Ngumi informed the Ambassador that the University through JKUATES had been making efforts in mapping out ways through which the technology could be extended to communities at the grassroots level grappling with issues such as food security, malnutrition and economic hardships, in order to improve their lives, and also, be a source of livelihood.
“The Machine has enabled both staff and students acquire skills on nixtamalization technology and has been useful in the production of maize food products such as tortillas that are palatable to Kenyans,” said Prof. Ngumi.
The Vice Chancellor said JKUAT was strong in agriculture, mechanization and value addition technologies, adding, it will strive to infuse the technology in the University curriculum in a bid to champion nixtamalization technology transfer across the country and the region.
JKUAT Enterprises Managing Director, Dr. Winfred Karugu thanked the Ambassador and the Federal Government of Mexico for the technology and assured him of the enterprises’ commitment to spreading the gospel of nixtamalization for food security and nutrition across the country.
The Ambassador was accompanied by, the Head of Economic, Trade and Cooperation Affairs, Ms. Cynthia Martinez Cortes.
Also present during the visit were; Deputy Vice Chancellors, Prof. Bernard Ikua (Administration), Prof. Robert Kinyua (Academic) and Prof. Jackson Kwanza (Finance).