Bringing Back Traditional Grains to the Dinner Table Project Team holds their 1st Stakeholders Forum in Kampala, Uganda

On August 18, 2015, one of the Innovation projects under incubation in the Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) http://www.ranlab.org Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab held their first Stakeholders Forum at the Golf Course Hotel, Kampala Uganda. This meeting attracted 40 participants of all walks including farmers, nutritionists, faculty, students, chefs, veterinary doctors, medical doctors, the media, and business entrepreneurs among others. Participants deliberated upon the different ways in which we can all be part of the noble cause of bringing back traditional grains to the dinner table as a way to increase resilience of community though crops that are only more drought tolerant also very nutritious and well suited to agro ecological conditions of Uganda.

Brief About the Project
This project uses novel recipes and aesthetics to rebrand millet and sorghum as attractive, tasty, healthier and more resilient alternatives to wheat, maize and rice which are swallowing up the consumption space for cereals across the region and the world over. The key to unlocking the potential of these alternative cereals is in finding the optimum taste and mixtures that will spur urban and peri-urban households to bring them back to their diner table as staple foods.

High level objectives of the Event were to;
• Help refine and develop the idea of a cookery competition to help rebrand traditional grains as super foods
• Develop a consortium of stakeholders who can combine their efforts to create a highly effective campaign
• Develop a consensus on the implementation of a campaign

The day’s presentations highlighted the following
• History of millet (Millet was seen as food for the conquerors) and how ancient grains are seeing resurgence.
• Emerging global food trend of superfoods, its drivers, and the marketing strategy being adopted by food marketing companies to
• Background Study on how Millet is currently eaten in different Parts of Uganda
• Trends in food advertising in Uganda
• The proposed cooking competition to rebrand millet

Stakeholder Discussions
Key among the highlights from the discussions at the Stakeholders Forum was the urgent need to rebrand traditional grains and widely publicize all products from traditional grains. These products include but are not limited to; millet porridge, millet posho, sorghum and millet cookies, cakes to mention but a few. Additionally, participants openly discussed the fears associated to consuming traditional grains sighting the fear for goiter and the assumption that traditional grains are meant to be consumed by the poor in the community. The experts in the meeting allayed all these fears putting emphasis on the food nutrients obtained from consuming the traditional grains.

The highlight of the day was presenting of innovative recipes based on traditional grains that had been prepared by the Executive Chef of the Golf Course Hotel. This was very well received by the participants.

“Today is the most interesting day of my life as a Chef, I have prepared all sorts of dishes from millet and sorghum grains and all my clients have enjoyed all that I have prepared and served. We are holding discussions with the Hotel Management to introduce a week’s service of traditional grains here and this will be regular” said one of the Chefs at the Golf Course Hotel. It is a concept worth adopting for all those in the cooked food service industry.

Generally, the stakeholders recommended among others that there is need to continuously sensitize the public about the nutritional value contained in crops like millet and sorghum. They noted that these grains are also important in preventing Non Communicable Diseases (NDCs). That we all need to promote innovation especially (Value added Products) other than the normal millet posho (kalo), porridge and local brew (Ajon) and the urgency to focus on Quality, Hygiene, Packaging and Branding to securely target the consumers was also paramount. Other participants re-echoed the need to open new markets and use celebrities to promote millet and sorghum products as a possible strategy to getting the products and message respectively out there.

Photos accessed here

“This stakeholders Forum was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).The content is the responsibility of ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government”