Bulrush Millet

Ark of taste
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Uwele, Mawele, Mwele, Miwele

Bulrush millet (or pearl millet, Pennisetum glaucum) is particularly known in Kenya for its use in preparing kinaa, a paste made with milk, and a favorite and easy-to-pack food for nomads, herders, and travelers. To make the product, dry bulrush millet is roasted and ground into a smooth flour, which is then mixed with milk and eaten as needed. It is filling and nutritious, and easy to pack the flour and milk separately for preparation on the road. It is rich in fiber and vitamin B1. The paste is also often used in weaning young children. Today, people make a similar paste using roasted maize, which lacks the nutritional qualities of millet kinaa.   The bulrush millet used for making kinaa is well adapted for arid and semi-arid areas, and it used to be widely grown in the area of Ukambani, where in the past, children would chase away the birds that feed on it. Now, with children in school during the days, very little of this millet variety is still planted, as it is a favorite of birds and large amounts of the crop are lost to the animals. One women’s group that cares for orphan and vulnerable children maintains a plot of the bulrush millet variety in the area of Syiembeni. A few farmers have turned to planting the crop near roads, in hopes that noise from traffic will scare away the birds that attack the crop. Among those who still grow the crop, the average annual yield is about 10 kg. The labor intensive production due to lack of protection from predators means that this crop is now considered endangered in the area, and those who wish to continue making traditional kinaa must do so with imported, high priced bulrush millet. 

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Cereals and flours

Indigenous community:Akamba