Learning to cook quality protein maize


Listen to part of a cooking show, which aired on four radio stations in three languages in Ethiopia.

Across Africa, many families rely on maize as food for their family and livestock. In Ethiopia, it is one of the most popular cereal crops.

Maize — like corn — can be ground into flour to make bread or porridge. The kernels can be cooked into a stew or the cob can simply be roasted over a flame. And maize can be used to make a variety of other products, including beer.

Despite its popularity and productivity, maize is not a good source of nutrition. Families who rely on maize as a staple food in their diet often suffer from malnutrition, as they miss out on important nutrients.

This is why we’ve been on air in Ethiopia for the past five years to tell listeners about the importance of nutrition and to introduce them to a special variety of maize called “quality protein maize.” This variety of maize is rich in essential amino-acids, lysine and tryptophan.

We worked with Dimtsi Weyane Tigray, Amhara Mass Media Agency, Oromia Radio and Television, and South Radio and Television stations in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions of Ethiopia to broadcast information about child nutrition, the advantages of quality protein maize, how to grow maize for the best results, and where to access important inputs, such as the quality protein maize seeds.

But small-scale farmers ultimately eat what they grow, so when they hear about a new crop or improved variety of crop, one important element comes to mind: Do I want to eat it? Farmers often choose to grow certain varieties of potato or cassava because they are easier to cook, can be stored longer, or simply taste better.

So, we added a cooking show to our project about quality protein maize.

A cooking show is an opportunity for women and men farmers to share recipes with radio listeners. The radio broadcasters will visit a farmer’s home to cook with them, describing the cooking process and the recipe to listeners. They will also taste the final product, describing the colour, smells, and flavour so that listeners can picture the delicious meal that has been prepared.

Over eight weeks, this project aired recipes using quality protein maize. Recipes included porridge, a flatbread called chapati, stew, and others. Maize can be mixed with vegetables and pulses for a variety of meals.

How does quality protein maize taste? Many farmers commented that the new maize variety has a sweet taste compared to conventional maize, which might make it a great addition to stews and other meals.

With new recipes to add to their repertoire, the hope is that more families buy, cook, eat and even grow quality protein maize, particularly now that they know about the nutrition benefits of this improved variety.

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