Tanzania is one of the largest pigeonpea producers in the world. It is estimated that more than 300,000 hectares are under cultivation of the drought tolerant legume. The country produces approximately 200,000 MT of pigeonpea every year, but 80% of it is exported to India as whole grain. Pigeonpea consumption is low despite the need for protein to be included in diets of rural and urban poor, which is dominated by maize and cassava.
The Smart Food project in Tanzania was designed to look for solutions to the two main problems – lack of market for pigeonpea, finger millet, and sorghum, and poor nutrition throughout the country.
Smartfood has been investigating the market potential of millet, sorghum, and pigeonpea in Tanzania. Although these grains are nutritious and can be cooked in similar ways to maize and beans,they aren’t present in many staple dishes. Our team developed a program that incorporated these healthy and economical grains in school lunches, and tested their potential in the urban market through processing and product introduction.
School study results
- 80% and 70% of students changed their negative perception of finger millet and pigeonpea respectively.
- >95% of students wanted to eat finger millet and pigeonpea dishes at school.
- 84% wanted pigeonpea 2-7 times per week, and 80% wanted finger millet on all 7 days.
- All meals were nutritionally superior: higher in protein, energy, fats, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc than previous maize based meals.
- Substituting one meal of beans with locally available pigeonpea (half the price of beans) = significant savings of 19,800 – 99,388 Tsh (US$ 8.5 – 42) per meal (depending on number of students in the school and the volume of beans they consumed prior to intervention).
- Potential new market of upto 700 metric tonnes of pigeonpea per week = $300,000 & 140 metric tonnes of sorghum/millet per week = $200,000.
The project selected four residential schools with over 2,800 high school students to implement a nutrition education training and diversify the school meals composition to include pigeonpea and finger millet recipes (partially substituting beans with pigeonpea, and maize ugali porridge with finger millet porridge). Outcomes were measured for economic, social and nutrition impact.Fifteen months after the program was completed, scientists revised all schools and surveyed 680 students on their perceptions and food preferences.
The published study
Wangari C, Mawia C, Siambi M, Silim S, Ubwe R, Malesi K, Anitha S and Kane-Potaka J. 2020, Changing perception through a participatory approach by involving adolescent school children in evaluating Smart Food dishes in school feeding programs – Real time experience from Central and Northern Tanzania. Ecology of food and nutrition.
Testing in the urban market
A variety of cookies, cakes, donuts, mandazi, and porridges were prepared and presented to a tasting panel, and the five highest-performing products were selected for market introduction in Arusha. The products, made of composite flours of millet, sorghum, or pigeonpea, were promoted in restaurants and bakeries, while the final products were promoted in retail shops.
Value addition processors were trained on how to use composite flour to make products for selling in the market. The project partnered with one of the processors – Halisi Company Ltd – to introduce the flour products into the Arusha market. A team of marketers led a marketing activation in Arusha, and brand ambassadors conducted door to door promotion, collected retail leads, and provided promotional posters to retailers.
Results from this pilot project demonstrate that there is indeed tremendous market potential for the three crops of focus. The market development of millet, sorghum and pigeonpea in Tanzania could have a significant impact not only on the farmers’ livelihoods, but also on the nutritional status of the consumers.
New products were put on the market to test consumer acceptance, and feedback and sales were extremely positive.
Smart Food study undertaken in collaboration with the SOMNI project
Talking about her experience in testing millet, sorghum and pigeonpea products in the urban markets
Agatha Laizer, Managing Director, Seasoning Palet and Halisi products