The current Nigerian market for cereal meal is largely dominated by single grain products. The increasing awareness of the exceptional nutritive benefits and advantages of cereals of African origin and whole-grain cereal due to promotions and awareness campaigns on them by governments and NGOs, and the increasing consumption of packaged food by Nigerians have created an increasing demand for a local whole-grain cereal meal that is palatable and well packaged.
A modern business providing locally sourced, high quality well packaged African multi-cereal whole-grain meal is lacking in Nigerian. By producing this type of cereal meal in Nigeria, a business venture can be very profitable and can contribute important health benefits to a large portion of the populace.
There is a need for food and beverage businesses aimed at putting well processed and packaged traditional and native Nigerian foods and drinks on the shelves of every store and supermarket in the world with the objectives to develop and produce novel food and drink products from local raw materials that are native to Nigeria and also to package high quality native and traditional Nigerian foods and drinks.
Flour has been used for centuries as a vital ingredient of our daily diet. It is used in a variety of modern & traditional dishes both at home and commercial level. However, flours and dishes from grains of African origin (sorghum, finger millet (Tamba), pearl millet, fonio millet (acha), and African rice) have not been produced or consumed at commercial level despite being a staple food in homes in Nigeria.
The common practices for flour from these cereals individually are koko/kamu, fura (porridge), kunu (drink), tuwo (swallow), masa (cake) etc. Sorghum, finger millet (tamba), pearl millet, Fonio millet (acha) and African rice meals are consumed as food individually in Nigeria. But over the years some rural families have come up with several grain mixtures resulting in a summation of all the individual nutrients into a single meal.
Sorghum, finger millet (tamba), pearl millet, fonio millet (acha), brown rice unlike wheat are all gluten-free. Sorghum and pearl millet are very rich in protein. Fonio and finger millet are very rich in crude fibre. Finger millet and fonio are very rich in calcium. Finger millet, pearl millet and fonio are very rich in iron. Sorghum and pearl millet are rich in vitamin A. African rice and pearl millet are rich in lysine. Pearl millet and fonio have high energy content.
Finger millet and Acha are very rich in cysteine and methionine which are deficient in all other cereals and lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the Nigerians who live on starchy staples such as cassava, plantain, polished rice or custards. However, some cereals are limited in some essential amino acids such as tryptophan, so to complement the nutritional values of the cereals and improve the nutritional value of the meal; soya bean which is rich in the deficient essential amino acid can be added to fortify the cereals. This makes the resulting meal a super meal. Ginger can also be added. It has antimicrobial qualities as such can serve as a preservative for a longer shelf life. A mixture of these grains, soybean and ginger results in a balanced diet meal of higher nutritional value.
These grains have been recommended individually because of their health values for old people, people suffering from coeliac disease, pregnant women, lactating mothers, infants, and the convalescents by doctors and nutritionists over the years, but this has only been utilized at home level.
The fatty acids in soybean are majorly unsaturated types e.g. oleic and linoleic acid. Soybean is suitable for reducing heart ailment which may be caused or aggravated by excessive intake of cholesterol from animal fat. It has been confirmed that ginger has long-standing potent tendencies that carry medicinal or therapeutic remedies as a result of its biological activity. Ginger offers a substantial protection from stroke and heart attack because of its ability to prevent blood clotting and also a multifaceted herb, crucial in the battle against cardiovascular diseases.
Food made from multi-grain cereals and legume mix can be eaten alone or eaten with other traditional and modern dishes. This will make it a staple food of choice and this makes it very important for Nigeria’s economy. This cereal mix milled with soybeans can hardly be found on a commercial level in the market despite its huge market potential and health benefits.
Nigeria has been characterized as a densely populated country. Over the past years, Nigerians preference is changing towards more quality and well-packaged food. Consumption patterns are changing in line with the strong growth of the middle class. Cereals are standard staple items in daily Nigerians diet and it is convenient for many Nigerians. Hence factors like cultural attachments, health and nutritional advantages indicate a strong potential market for a well packaged legume-fortified multi-cereal whole-grain meal.
Nigeria is the third world largest producer of sorghum and the world leading country for food grain sorghum production and one of the major African producers of Pearl millet. Among the total millet produced significantly in Africa, fonio is grown in 4% area with Nigeria alone providing almost 50% of that area. The third world major ginger producer is Nigeria. Yet the processing of these traditional African grains for food is getting too little innovation and investment at a commercial level, especially in the area of convenience-type foods aimed at the rapidly growing middle-class urban population.
Introduction of a well packaged and branded African traditional multi-whole grain legume-fortified flour as compared to unbranded and not properly packaged traditional home-made single-grain flour available in local marketplaces will be of great economic and health benefit to Nigeria.