Improvement of Protein and Energy intake in Malawi through supplementation of maize meal nsima with soybean
Gibson Mapopa Jere, Jasper K Imungi, Stephen Akude Chimtengo
Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is a public health and developmental problem that persistently afflicts Malawian population. The main diet in Malawi is nsima, a paste prepared by cooking maize meal with water. Nsima is often eaten with accompaniment of stewed vegetables and rarely with meat or fish. Nsima therefore offers little protein scope in the diets. Malnutrition such as stunting, wasting and underweight remain high especially in preschool children. This study was therefore designed to reinforce protein in nsima by blending maize meal with soybean flour. The nsima was tested for sensory acceptability and proximate chemical composition. The Protein and Energy contribution to Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for specific age groups were calculated. Results showed that nsima from the composite flour was accepted up to 40% soy flour. The Protein, Fats or Lipids, the Crude Fiber and Total Ash increased significantly (p<0.05) with increased incorporation of soy flour. The contribution to RDA of protein and energy in the amount of nsima consumed ranged from 10.5% to 59.0% and 6.4% to 25.8% respectively, across the age group and the amount of nsima consumed. The study concludes that nsima from Maize-Soy composite flour is acceptable up to 40% soy flour and increases significantly (p<0.05) intake of protein and energy across all age groups and would make a significant contribution to reduction of PEM. The cost of the meal is also affordable to all Malawian families.