By Vincent Khonje
KASUNGU-(MANA)-A feeding research which was conducted in Kasungu’s Traditional Authority (T.A) Wimbe and Sub TA Chitanthamapiri has proved that selenium deficiencies can be addressed by bio-fortification.
Selenium is a micronutrient which is necessary for boosting immunity and supports brain development in children, however in Malawi most soils lack this important element.
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) conducted the trial titled Alleviating Hidden Hunger through Agronomy (AHHA) from June to November 2019 and the results show that selenium deficiencies were addressed by fortifying it in flour.
According to LUANAR’s nutrition lecturer Dr. Gabriella Chiutsi a baseline survey in 2019 showed that 92 percent of women of child bearing age had selenium deficiencies and 100 percent of children of school going age also had selenium deficiencies.
“The trial involved addressing the problem through consumption of agronomically-biofortified maize flour for 12 weeks and the results have shown that 93 percent of the women participants and 81 percent of the children now had selenium in their blood,” said Chiutsi.
One of the participants Agatha Nkhoma said she was happy to be part of the trial as she never realised that she lacked some essential micronutrients in her body.
“We are glad that we have been part of the process which will help other people also have this important element,” said Nkhoma.
Village head Lambwe whose area was where some of the participants were drawn from said the trial has enlightened them on some important nutrients the people lacked.
“We are sure that our bodies are no longer the same after acquiring selenium and that we will benefit a lot,” said Village head Lambwe.
The maize flour was fortified with selenium by growing the maize with fertilizers which had the micronutrient.
Results of the trial will be shared with various stakeholders for policy direction.