Monday, 17 October 2011

Amaranth Series


Amaranth Based Buns/ Bread

Formulation used

250g of Flour (75% wheat and 25%Amaranth flours)

20g of Sugar

2.5g of salt

2g of yeast

30g of margarine

1 ml cooking oil

Water added as required


  1. Mix the yeast and a little sugar in a little Luke warm water. Leave for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast until foamy.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients(flour, sugar, salt) together in a bowl
  3. Add and rub margarine into the dough and mix
  4. Make a well in the dough mixture and add oil, then mix
  5. Add yeast solution to the mixture a little at a time
  6. Add some warm water a little a time while mixing and kneading the dough until it is smooth, non sticky and elastic
  7. Put the dough in greased plastic bags and leave it to rise for 1 hour.
  8. Punch the dough down and knead the dough again to remove air
  9. Divide the dough into small portions of the desired bun size
  10. Mould the dough portion into small balls and put on a greased baking tray
  11. Cover the balls with plastic sheet and leave the balls to swell until they are almost double their size for 1 hour
  12. Bake the balls in a hot oven, reheated at 180oC until top turns light brown. This will take about 20 minutes
  13. Remove the buns from the heat and brush the top with fat.

Above are Pictures of the buns baked using the 25% Amaranth and 75% wheat Flour

Amaranth Based Cakes

Formulation used

250g Flour (75% wheat and 25% amaranth)

100g of sugar

100g of margarine (fat)

8g of Baking powder

2 eggs

80ml milk (optional)

Baking time: 40 minutes at 250oC degrees

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease the cake pans/ tins and sprinkle flour on the pan.
  3. Turn upside down to remove excess flour.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer until smooth
  5. Add the beaten eggs and flavors (if desired). Mix until it has a smooth consistency.
  6. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  7. Add a little flour, then a little milk at a time. Keep adding a little of each until they are done.
  8. Gently mix the batter by hand and put it in previously greased cake pans. Bake for 40 minutes and does the toothpick test to see if it's ready.

Above are Pictures of the cakes baked using the 25% Amaranth and 75% wheat Baking Flour


Formulation used

500g of Flour (25% Amaranth and 75% wheat flours)

60g of margarine

1 egg

1g of salt

70g of Sugar

150ml of milk (optional)

4g of active dry yeast

Luke warm water, add as needed


  1. Dust the yeast over the warm water, and let stand until foamy.
  2. In a bowl, mix the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, margarine and the flour together. Knead for until smooth and elastic.
  3. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover.
  4. Set in a warm place to rise until double. Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to desired thickness.
  6. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter. Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.
  7. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 175 degrees C. Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wooden spoon. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface.
  8. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown.
  9. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess.

    Above are Pictures of  deep fried Doughnuts made using the 25% Amaranth and 75% wheat Flour

The Amaranth Series

Production of Quality Amaranth Flour From Amaranth Grains
Super Fine Amaranth Flour
White Variety Amaranth Grain

Superfine Amaranth Grain Flour
Red Variety Amaranth Grain

Flour and Baking Properties. The baking properties of amaranth seed flour and blends of wheat flour can be used up to 20%. Farinograph peak time and stabilities and specific loaf volume decreased with increasing Amaranth hypochondriacu flour. Farinograph data (Lorenz, 1981) indicated a need for higher absorptions and shorter mixing times when using Amaranth hypochondriacus flour as part of composite flour in bread baking. According to Lorenz (1981), the flavour of the breads with amaranth was very pleasant and was preferred by a taste panel over the flavour of white bread. At substitution levels of 10 and 15%, the grain of the bread was more open, the texture not as silky, and the crumb colour slightly darker. Flour made from Amaranth cruentus perisperm resulted in bread with the best combination of higher specific loaf volume and total score (Saunders and Becker, 1984). Breads and cakes baked with waxy-type amaranth starches were of poor quality (Stone and Lorenz, 1984). Crackers prepared with tezopaco wheat and 10, 20, and 30 % amaranth flour (Sanchez-Marroquin, 1980) resulted in comparable quality to the wheat cracker at amaranth levels up to 20%. The use of amaranth flour alone resulted in poor product texture. Because of its nutritional quality, amaranth flour has been successfully utilized as a supplement to corn flour in tortillas (Sanchez-Marroquin, 1980).


Amaranth grain is very small grain which makes it harder to mill into fine flour under usual protocols for milling other small grains such as millet and wheat.  Due to the hardness of the grain, amaranth flour often remains grainer when milled under usual conditions and the products made from such flour have an undesirable sandy texture which is often mistaken for soil.  Under this research, efforts where concentrated to improving the milling process to ensure that the flour produced were less grainer.  We started off by milling the grain using the a diesel mill with a sieve of 500 microns. When other sample were milled using an electrical mill by commercial millers using the same sieve size (500nm), the flour was finer than the one milled using the diesel mill but still did not meet the qualities of baking flours.

 Pastry products made from the flour tasted fine right after baking or pan frying but had a much sandier texture when left to cool overnight.  We determined that flour milled using commercial millers was not suitable for products such as bread and cakes though it was suitable for Bhajia bites, meal and porridges. 

Production of amaranth based products can be preceded by the production of flour from the grain. Milling tests conducted with a hammer mill

At laboratory level, we determined that a sieve sizes of 250, and 150 microns yield flour that can be used for making pastry products with acceptable texture; however, the rate of flour extraction is low. This makes flour extraction a labor intensive process and this increases the production costs.  It was also noted that amaranth grain is often contaminated with soil.  Efforts should be made to ensure that the grain is well sorted before the milling process.  You can design screens that can all very tiny particles of soil to pass but not the grain. You will be able to separate the soil particles from the grain. Also tried out, was including the unit operation of washing in the process line to get rid of the soil/dust. Washing separated the soil from the grain but it is an expensive unit operation in terms of time, energy, water and labor involved. The processes of re-wetting and re-drying are time wasting and makes the all process complex. It is therefore advisable to working with farmers on strategies to reduce soil in the grain through developing a proper postharvest handling protocol for the grain. Also acquiring a de-stoner is one way to go and with this, improved grain quality is expected hence reducing the time, and labor costs involved with sorting the grain by hand.

The Amaranth Series

  Development of Amaranth Enriched Food Products

Amaranth Based Bhajia
Amaranth Based Cakes
Red Amaranth Plant

Amaranth Based Bread

Problem Statement

Amaranth grain is a nutrient dense cereal that also has nutraceutical properties. Amaranth grains are rich in proteins (with the much needed amino acids lysine, methionine, and cycteine), Vitamines and minerals especially calcium, iron, magnesium, and folate. It is also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and E.  Some of the health benefits associated with consumption of amaranth grain products including improving weight gain among individuals formerly wasted by HIV/AIDS, improved appetite, improved blood lipid profile, and general improvement in health among individuals with cardiovascular diseases as amaranth grains are a cholesterol-lowering food, with both tocotrienols and phytosterols, two natural compounds known to help the body eliminate bad cholesterol. These health boosting properties are mostly attributed to the high nutrient content and health boosting compounds such as squalene and tocotrienols.   With this, amaranth can reduce or combat common diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, hemorrhage, TB, HIV/AIDS, wound healing, kwashiorkor, marasmus, skin disease among others. Amaranth seeds and biomass are rich in soluble and insoluble diet fibers important in prevention of coronary heart diseases of the colon. The compounds in amaranth can enhance human growth and development, improve general health, and strengthen immune responses to combat diseases. In situations where dietary choices are limited or when immune systems are compromised, amaranth consumption may make the difference between normal health and life-threatening diseases. Also, amaranth grain is free of gluten, which is important for people with gluten allergies.

Despite its health boosting attributes, amaranth grain flour is grainer and has a peculiar strong aroma which makes it less desirable in most food production lines.  Under this project, efforts were concentrated on creating flour blends that would mask these undesirable attributes in order to develop nutrient-dense functional products with acceptable organoleptic properties.   Composite flours were generated from mixing amaranth flour with commonly used flours such as wheat, millet, and cassava.   This project was designed to enhance production of flours and products from amaranth grain in order to improve utilization of amaranth grain in Uganda.

Why Amaranth (Justification).

Amaranth contains more protein than most of the other cereal grains- and more protein than wheat. Amaranth is an excellent source of lysine, an important amino acid (protein). Grains are notorious for low lysine content, which decreases the quality of their proteins. The high lysine content in amaranth sets it apart from other grains. Food scientists consider the protein content of amaranth of high "biological value", similar in fact, to the proteins found in milk. This means that amaranth contains an excellent combination of essential amino acids and is well absorbed in the intestinal tract. Another advantage of the protein content of amaranth is that the primary proteins in amaranth are "albumins" and "globulins". In comparison, the major proteins in wheat are called "prolamins", which are considered less soluble and less digestible than are albumins and globulin proteins. Bottom line- the amount, types and digestibility of proteins in amaranth make it an excellent plant source of high quality proteins. Amaranth contains more fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron than other gluten-free grains. Amaranth is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (as are most whole grains) and it contains vitamin E in similar amounts to olive oil.


Kauffman, C.S., and L.E. Weber. 1990. Grain amaranth. p. 127-139. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Erin Rigik (2009); Ancient grains help bakers achieve healthful label claims and give products value-added appeal.


Main Objects; To produce amaranth-based food products suitable for consumption by a variety of people.

Specific Objective;

(1)   Determine extraction rates and sieve size necessary to produce amaranth flour with acceptable functional properties through;

a)     Milling trials to optimize grinding process to produce less grainier flour. Milled amaranth flour was sieved through sieves of different seizes. 

b)     Determine the optimal levels for blending amaranth flour with flours from common cereals to produce acceptable gruels and bakery products

c)      To test the developed products through sensory evaluation

d)     To test the nutritional composition of the developed products

e)     To conduct shelf life studies on the developed food products

Sunday, 16 October 2011



Mbusa Anyasio

IntroductionThe Uganda’s economy depends on Agriculture for food and as source of income and employment..Approximately 85% of people in Uganda live in rural areas with the majority depending on agriculture for employment and subsistence. Traditionally, smallholder rural producers in the targeted area have focused their efforts on producing sufficient amounts of food to support their families and then attempted to sell the small amounts of surplus. Nonetheless, the majority of this surplus is not of marketable standard, making this subsistence approach risk adverse.

Agriculture continues to be a key economic sector for Uganda – contributing 85% of export earnings and providing more than 70% of national employment Over 8.4 million people in Uganda living in extreme poverty are located in rural areas and depending on Agriculture. Compared with the rest of the economy however, agricultural growth is lagging, now accounting for only about 29% of GDP, compared with 46% during the 1990s.

External global trends have led to rapid changes in the rural environment with small producers becoming increasingly marginalized due to their lack of competitiveness. Currently more than half of farm households are classified as subsistence-oriented and about half of total farm output is classified as "non-monetary." The recent shift away from national trade protection towards a free trade environment means that farmers need to alter their strategies to combine productive and competitive approaches. To achieve this, agro-enterprise developments needs to be better organized at both enterprise and market chain levels. This means going beyond "comparative advantages" by virtue of natural resources or cheap labor, and adopting a strategy of competitive advantage. It requires farmers within an enterprise to understand how their markets operate, how their enterprise is positioned within a market chain and how that market chain can be organized to make it function more efficiently.

In order to achieve a competitive advantage in the market place requires improved skills and knowledge, hard work, and trust among market chain actors. Accessing markets requires meeting changing demands from consumers and taking advantage of market trends at a price that the consumer finds attractive. To maintain a competitive advantage therefore, requires a sound business plan and enterprise management that is capable of making decisions based on dynamic information, such as consumer needs and market trends, and able to identify new market opportunities.

DIME intervention is a market-led approach based on the marketing philosophy, with the objective of enabling producers and agro-based enterprises in a given area to identify and access remunerative opportunities for existing or new products in existing or new markets. The approach focuses on increasing the income of MOs through products that have growth potential by building on the existing skills and resources of local communities, including farmers, processors, and traders. Three critical issues that are taken into consideration are: coordination with existing, local partners, the organization of existing SILCs into MOs, and the use of existing income-oriented products grown by most farmers in the targeted area.

A critical component of agro-enterprise development is the use of a participatory approach in all activities. Development at the community level empowers MOs and local service providers to develop new agro-enterprise options. These stakeholders participate at different levels, including decision-making, community level planning, the identification of market opportunities, experimentation, implementation, and scaling-up the intervention. Each of these sustainable improves the incomes of rural farmers, processors, and traders in a competitive manner.

Dime operates under the following goal and strategic Objectives;


Rural communities in western Uganda are empowered with skills, technologies, organizational structures, and linkages that improve livelihoods through increased productivity and income.

DIME Strategic objectives

Increased agricultural productivity in poor communities of rural, western Uganda Kasese in particular.

Heightened competitiveness of marketable enterprises in poor communities of rural, western Uganda improves the region’s agro-enterprise sector.
Poor communities of rural, western Uganda have access to improved business development services.

Caritas Kasese is located in western Uganda in Kasese district; under social services and development department Catholic Diocese of Kasese. DIME is funded by Catholic Relief Services and is implemented by Caritas Kasese. Dime interventions are carried out in the seven sub counties of Kisinga, Kyarumba, Munkunyu, Karusandara, Kyabarungira, Kitswamba and Muhokya. DIME is a farmer driven approach that focuses on improving Farmers’ livelihoods through increased income and production.

The management structure includes the Coordinator, Finance Manager, Project marketing manager, data clerk and the Marketing Facilitators. The MFs are ten in number each with one Subcounty, However, there are some sub counties which are big in size and these are facilitated by two MFs and they include; Munkunyu, Kitswamba and Kyarumba.

Other programmes run by caritas Kasese include, Sustainable Agriculture, Gender and Development, Wetland management, SILC or Savings and Internal Lending Communities and DIME work hand in hand with SILC in order to increase savings from the Farmers’ produce.

Strategic objectives1. Strategic objective 1

Increased Agricultural productivity in poor communities of rural, western Uganda Kasese in particular.

1.1. Rural farmers adopt production and value addition Technology.

Most farmers have adopted production technologies and some others are still in the process of adopting to the value addition technologies. The following marketable enterprises were implemented as a result of DIME interventions in the seven sub counties where DIME operates.

Soya beans
KISINGA Soya/beans
Beans /Soya

From the above data, the maize Enterprise takes a lead in the selected marketing organizations where by at least each sub county has maize as an enterprise.

In some sub counties, some farmers selected coffee as an enterprise since it was the only crop that could be grown on commercial basis this is especially in Kyabarungira subcounty. The enterprises are selected by the farmers and facilitated by the Marketing Facilitator.

Summary of enterprises


Pie chart showing the Marketable Enterprises
Six marketable enterprises were implemented as a result of DIME interventions and from the above; the following percentages of farmers have been trained in production technologies and value addition from each subcounty.

On value addition, most members atleast can carry out some activities like sorting, threshing, winnowing and harvesting mature produce for quality products in which they were formerly ignorant to carry out. Some of these activities increase quality that would lead to increased profits to the farmers.

The MFs inspecting the Maize on bare ground on Value addition

All the Marketing Organizations have received training modules especially in production and Agronomic Technologies and as shown in the table below, there is an increase in the number of farmers adopting compared to last quarter.

The minimum number for a marketing organization is 35members thus DIME has 3180farmers and out of those, 2655(active) are adapting to production and value addition technologies, and all the 100 marketing organization Receive DIME assistances especially in linkages and advisory services in Agriculture through Trainings carried out by the Marketing Facilitators.

The table and the chart represent the percentages
Subcounty No of MOs Total number No. of Farmers adopting Percentage
Kitswamba 20
648 600 85
Karusandara 10
300 280 80
Muhokya 10
400 320 91
Kisinga 10
340 260 74
Munkunyu 20
620 500 71
Kyarumba 20
582 450 70
Kyabarungira 10 290 245 70
Total 100
3180 2655 75

The chart showing the percentages per subcounty1.2. Trade linkages provide improved access to Agricultural inputs.

Most Marketing Organizations are in the process of carrying out collective input procurement due to DIME interventions, out of the 100 MOs, 50of them carried out collective input procurement of materials such as seed and fertilizer giving a percentage of 50% of farmers using improved inputs as a result of DIME interventions. Most of these farmers used buy the inputs from local markets especially seed, but due to DIME interventions, some of them have started buying from recognized seed suppliers. most of these farmers are willing to procure together but they give an excuse of finance in that they don’t all get finances at once to enable them procure together.

Strategic objective 2Heightened competitiveness of marketable enterprises in poor communities of rural, western Uganda improves the region’s agro-enterprise sector

2.1. Target members of multiple SILCS are clustered into Functioning Mos

All the SILC members were clustered into functional marketing organizations, and we no longer call them groups. They are now marketing organizations. However in sub counties with 2MFs, SILC groups were few and they had to form other Groups that were not in SILC to make up the 10Mos required from each MF.

All the 100 Mos have gone through democratic elections and they now have marketing executives, on top of that, these leaders were trained in leadership skills and records management they have made Constitutions to Govern them, and this also is an indicator that these organizations meet registration requirements and others have started registering from the subcounty to the district. All the MOs went through enterprise selection facilitated by the MFs and the selected enterprises were implemented and all the Mos are implementing both business and action plans.


2.2 Trade capacity of Target Farmers and other market chain actors is increased

There is a big change or an increase in the percentage of farmers transitionining from subsistence to market oriented production, actually most farmers are now carrying out farming as a business. About 75 percent of the farmers are changing from Subsistence to Farming as a business; this is evidenced by the increase in production from the marketable enterprises as a result of DIME interventions. Six MEs are benefiting from DIME interventions where by demonstration sites were set up to act as learning sites for the farmers all the marketing organizations are benefiting directly from the interventions.

2.3Investments in ME by Farmers and market chain actors is increased

The farmers’ investments in MEs have increased in all the marketable enterprises that were implemented by the 100 marketing organizations receiving DIME support to invest in the six marketable enterprises. Due to the change from subsistence to commercial, the farmers’ investments had to increase in order to increase production.

2.4Market linkages between farmers, producers, processors, transporters, storage enterprises, markets and consumers improve ME market access.

There is an increase in the Market linkages from the different market chain actors especially in the selected marketable enterprises basically in sunflower to Kyempara farmers, Kyabarungira farmers for coffee, Kasese buyers for maize and beans, Uganda commodities exchange for maize, (five in number). On top of that, some marketable organizations sold to identified buyers after bulking their produce. Most MOs have been linked to other players in the markets especially to seed suppliers. Other organizations that DIME is linked to include, Mubuku Farmers, provide agronomic and seed suppliers, Ibuga prisons Farm, provide information on commercial farming.

Strategic objective 3
3. Poor communities of rural, western Uganda have access to improved business development services.

3.1Members of MOs use SILC savings to finance ME investments.

Most marketable organizations use SILC savings to invest in marketable enterprises however, there are some MOs that were selected not in SILC and these use other savings from other sources to invest in DIME interventions and most farmers borrow from SILC for investments in MEs though there is less savings by most farmers.


3.2. Mos receive Agro enterprise development training modules.

The Table below is a summary of the modules and number of MOs

Number of Mos trained in organization and Mgt 100
Number of Mos trained in marketing business skills 100
Number of Mos trained in SILC 100
Number of Mos trained in innovation &experimentation 100
Number of Mos trained in selected enterprise production 100

The MFS tasting some Value added products and checking the MO records
3.3Rural farmers have improved access to market information.

Due to DIME interventions, most rural farmers are improving their accessibility to market information. This is carried out by both the MFs and the farmers themselves. Most farmers can now tune in to Agricultural radio programmes and news from the radios with Agricultural programmes due to DIME. Bwera information center provide Agricultural information which we also deliver to the Farmers. The farmers also can obtain updates via their phones.

Proposed modifications to the M&E Plan and Work Plan.

The main activities for the next quarter are attached in appendix 1.The monitoring and evaluation exercise is due to take place in the months of late November and mid December.


Challenges and way forward
Inadequate market for most selected marketable enterprises especially for Maize and the low prices offered to the Farmers even after bulking where by they do not receive the cash in time and yet the receipt system is not yet done by the ware houses, this affects especially the farmers who sold to Uganda commodity exchange through Nyakatonzi.

Gender mainstreaming is still a challenge where by the turn for men is still low during the meetings yet the men are the sole source/owners of land if we are to increase production, so there id still need to attract more men into the marketing organizations.

Some SILC groups as the entry points, had less number of members not meeting the minimum of DIME where by 30 members for SILC and this affected the DIME minimum of35 members, yet most of these SILC groups do not want to revise their Guiding Principles, on top of that, some SILC groups still have young children (minors) and old women and these reduce production.

The misconception of the information to the farmers at fast that they would be supplied with seed, tractors and fertilizers especially in Kitswamba Sub County by some silc agents and the silc supervisors, this greatly made some farmers to withdraw from the MOs because their objectives were not met and this also reduces production.

Most Mos are located in hilly and mountainous areas and this has made it hard for the MFs to reach the MOs in time .this is also due to the Topography of the district thus the bicycles could not do much for efficient transport.

The meeting time for the MOs at the same time, same day and at different locations and this affects the MFs to articulate the required service to the intended people on top of that they meet for DIME and savings on the same day.

Prolonged draught in some subcounty especially in Karusandara, Heavy rains especially in Kyarumba subcounty and this has caused a lot of floods washing away the crops and earth quakes which have also affected crops.

Delay in remittance of funds also affected the activities in that some seminars that were supposed to take place were not carried in time out. This also delayed the construction of demonstration sites for the farmers.

Inadequate inputs by the farmers such as seed has made them plant small portions of land otherwise they are willing to cultivate big chunks of land. On top of that, there is still a challenge of inadequate market information flow due to limited access to market information systems. A gender relationship in MOs is still low since the most focused groups were mainly women groups.

The farmers move long distances for farming activities and most of them shift to the farm places and this reduces their turn for training on meeting days.

Diseases especially Malaria and HIV/ AIDS are also a problem to some of our MOs. This limits on the activity flow of duties in production, and these two disease have increase death tall among our communities ,these burials reduce the number of members who turn up for trainings and thus in turn reduce production.

There are poor Means of storage systems in all the sub counties and this affects the quality of stored products for the farmers and also due to inadequate storage structures, the farmers end up getting low prices because they can not store for some long period of time and they tend to sell early. Thus need to upgrade the stores that can be used by our MOS especially one in a sub-county.

Conclusion DIME is on ground and fully operating in the seven subroutines with 100 marketing organizations and is there to eradicate poverty through increased Production and income that would lead to development and we appreciate Catholic Relief Services (CRS Uganda) for the support towards Caritas DIME project to improve Rural Farmers Lives and we hope the project will expand to other districts and sub counties.





Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Amaranth Series: Amaranth: The Nutrient Dense Plant

Amaranth: The Nutrient Dense Plant

Amaranth [Amaranthus hypochondriacus, A. cruentus (Grain type) & A. tricolor (Vegetable type)] is an herbaceous annual with upright growth habit, cultivated for both its seeds which are used as a grain and its leaves which are used as a vegetable or greens. Both leaves and seeds contain protein of an unusually high quality (Robert L. Myers, 2010). Amaranth is not in the grass family, therefore is not considered a cereal grain. However, since it is used much like cereal grains, it is often called a pseudocereal. The grain is milled for flour or popped like popcorn. The leaves of both the grain and vegetable types may be eaten raw or cooked. Amaranths grown principally for vegetable use have better tasting leaves then the grain types (Kelly and Price, 2008). This underutilised plant has promising economic value. The challenge is to find ways to incorporate it into existing food products, as well as to create new products from it. Amaranth was a major food of the Aztecs and earlier American cultures, having been domesticated thousands of years ago (Myers, 2010). According to Kelly and Price, (2008) amaranth was a staple of the Aztecs and was incorporated into their religious ceremonies. In the 1500’s the Spanish conquistadors prohibited amaranth production and today only a limited amount of amaranth grain is grown in this area, most of which is popped and mixed with honey to make a confection called, "alegría." However, much of the genetic base has been maintained there because amaranth has continued to grow as a wildflower.  Peruvians use fermented amaranth seed to make "chicha", a local beer. In the Cusco area the flowers are used to treat toothache and fevers and as a food colorant for maize and quinoa. During the carnival festival women dancers often use the red amaranth flower as rouge, painting their cheeks, then dancing while carrying bundles of amaranth on their backs as they would a baby. In both Mexico and Peru the amaranth leaves are gathered then used as a vegetable either boiled or fried. In India amaranth is known as "rajeera" (the King’s grain) and is popped then used in confections called "laddoos," which are similar to Mexican "alegria." In Nepal, amaranth seeds are eaten as gruel called "sattoo" or milled into flour to make chappatis. In Ecuador, the flowers are boiled then the colored boiling water is added to "aquardeinte" rum to create a drink that "purifies the blood," and is also reputed to help regulate the menstrual cycle.
Myers, 2010, reported that the attraction of the crop to both earlier civilizations and modern consumers is because it is a highly nutritious. Amaranth seeds are unusually high in protein for a non-legume, running around 14 to 16% proteins. The protein is well balanced in amino acids, and is high in lysine, an amino acid most grains are deficient in (legumes also have high lysine). Amaranths are tall (.5 to 2 m or 2 to 8 ft) and moderately branched from a main stem. Grain types form large loose panicles at the tips of the stems. Vegetable types form flowers and seeds along the stems. Grain types may grow to 2 meters and produce yields comparable to rice or maize (2,500 kg/ha or 1,000 lb/a).  Amaranth has a "C-4" photosynthetic pathway (along with such plants as corn and sorghum), which enables it to be uniquely efficient in utilizing sunlight and nutrients at high temperatures. It is more drought-resistant than maize and thrives in 30-35o C temperatures. It tolerates poor fertility and drought, although the tolerance mechanism is not well understood. Plant quality however, is poor under stressful conditions. Amaranth responds well to fertilizer.  As with other small grains, amaranth may be processed in popped, flaked, extruded and ground flour forms. In Mexico, the popped amaranth confection, alegría is a popular favorite among locals and tourists alike. The flour or flaked forms are combined with wheat or other flours to make cereals, cookies, bread and other baked goods. Originally it was recommended that amaranth make up only 10-20% of the flour blend, but studies have shown that it can be blended at 50-75% levels and still maintain functional properties and flavor.  Coarsely ground amaranth makes a tasty and nutritious porridge cooked by itself or mixed with other grains. Other seed components with useful potential include anthocyanin (red) pigments to produce non-toxic natural dyes, microcrystalline starch for food and industry and squalene, specialized oil used in skin cosmetics, computer and pharmaceutical industries.(Kelly and price, 2008)


Kauffman, C.S., and L.E. Weber. 1990. Grain amaranth. p. 127-139. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Erin Rigik (2009); Ancient grains help bakers achieve healthful label claims and give products value-added appeal.
Uses of Amaranth
Amaranth is a highly nutritious food. The leaves, shoots and tender stems are eaten as a potherb in sauces or soups, cooked with other vegetables, with a main dish or by itself. The seed or grain is also edible. Chopped plants have been used as forage for livestock. And, the flowers make nice ornamentals, fresh or dried.
Nutritious Grain Crop. Amaranth grain has more protein than corn, and the protein is of an unusually high quality. It is high in the amino acid lysine, which is the limiting amino acid in cereals like maize, wheat and rice. The protein is also relatively rich in the sulfur-containing amino acids, which are normally limiting in the pulse crops (e.g. dry beans). The "protein complement" of amaranth grain is very near to the levels recommended by FAO/WHO. It has a protein score of 67 to 87. Protein scores are determined by taking the ratio of the essential amino acids to the level for those amino acids recommended by FAO/WHO, and multiplying by 100. By comparison, wheat (14% protein) scores 47, soybeans (37%) score 68-89, rice (7%) scores 69, maize (9%) scores 35. Although amaranth is theoretically close to the ideal, combining it with another grain increases the quality to very close to the FAO/WHO standards.
Weight gain studies with rats (Cheeke, 1980) demonstrated, however that the actual nutritional value is less than would be expected from the above considerations. This is due to anti-nutritional factors in the raw amaranth grain. Cooking reduces the toxic effects. Apparently the problems, including the unpalatability, were caused by saponins and phenolic compounds in the amaranth grain. (Myers,2010)
Nutritious Animal Feed. The raw amaranth grain contains toxins and anti-nutritional factors that can reduce its effectiveness as an animal feed. Myers, (2010) reported that according to Dr. Cheeke relating to a personal communication how a scientist in Australia fed raw amaranth grain to poultry as the major component of the diet. As a result the chickens went into convulsions and died. An unidentified toxic factor had caused liver damage leading to the death of the chickens.
Recent research has confirmed the use of cooked or autoclaved amaranth grain for use as chicken feed, giving production results comparable to those from feeding corn/soybean ration (Kelly and Price, 2008) Processed amaranth (A. hypochondriacus) grain is a potentially useful energy supplement for broiler diets and can be incorporated at levels up to 400 g per kg without adverse effects.(Kelly and Price, 2008). Amaranth also solves the problems of formulating hog feed without using often prohibited animal protein.(Kelly and Price, 2008) utilized the quality of the amaranth protein, particularly because of the amino acid lysine, to formulate a complete feed ration using both grain and plant biomass to successfully fatten hogs.
For human consumption, amaranth leaves and stems, or entire plants may be eaten raw or cooked as spinach or greens. As discussed earlier, cooking and discarding the water will remove potentially harmful oxalates and nitrates. According to Myers, (2010), there exist very few raw foodstuffs that do not have problems. Raw soybeans contain 10 kinds of toxins; raw kidney beans kill rats, and yet cooking eliminates these problems. The key seems to be to use amaranth (leaf or grain) in recommended amounts, and to cook it. The seeds from grain amaranth can be ground for use as good quality flour for breads or pastries. It must be combined with wheat flour for yeast dough. The Organic Farming and Research Center (Rodale) used a 50:50 ratio successfully, but suggests that the percentage of amaranth could be greater. They state that "amaranth flour contributes to the sweetness and moistness of a baked good".
In a number of African nations, amaranth is becoming an important nutritious food in regards to treating those suffering from HIV/AIDS. It is known that on a poor diet, the anti-retroviral drugs function poorly or not at all. Often, the drug becomes a toxin in itself. Amaranth grain porridge (1 cup) combined together with moringa leaf powder (1 Tbsp) from moringa leaves (Moringa oleifera), according to ECHO Technical Notes on Moringa provide not only an excellent nutritional food for the AIDS sufferer, but those consuming the amaranth/moringa combination are able to take anti-retroviral drugs with no complications. Alternatively, amaranth seeds can be popped like popcorn. Rodale says that popped amaranth can be used: in confections bound with sorghum, molasses or honey, in high-energy granola and granola bars, in cheese spreads, as a condiment to flavor salad dressings, in breading for chicken and fish, in crackers, pie crusts and breads, and as toppings for casseroles and desserts.

Composition of Amaranth:

The harvested amaranth plant is 50-80 % edible (Oke, 1980), which only 20-30% of most vegetable plants is utilized directly for human consumption in the United States (Kramer and Kwee, 1977). The crude protein content of grain amaranth ranges from 12.5 to 17.6 % dry matter. This is higher than in most common grains except soybeans. Grain amaranth protein contains around 5% lysine and 4.4% sulfur amino acids, which are the limiting amino acids in other grains (Senft, 1980). The total lipid content of grain amaranth ranges from 5.4 to 17.0% dry matter and has a high level of unsaturation (about 75%), containing almost 50 % linoleic acid (Opute, 1979; Carlsson, 1980; Becker et al., 1981; Badami and Patil, 1976). Amaranth leaves contain 17.4-38.3 % dry matter as crude protein, averaging 5% lysine and thus having potential as a protein supplement (Oliveira and de Carvalho, 1975). However, Cheeke et al. (1981) argued that the presence of saponins, alkaloids, phenolics, and oxalates might have a negative effect on leaf protein concentrate quality.
The major unsaturated fatty acids in A. tricolor are linoleic in seeds (49%) and stems (46%) and linolenic in leaves (42%), while the major saturated fatty acid in seeds, stems, and leaves is palmitic acid at 18-25% of total fatty acids (Fernando and Bean, 1984).
Vitamins C and A are present at nutritionally significant levels (Table 6), averaging 420 ppm of vitamin C and 250 ppm of §-carotene (Wills et al., 1984). Trace quantities of vitamin B-12-like activity were found in A. hypochondriacus leaves, though the exact nature of this activity could not be concluded (Jathar et al., 1974). Minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium (Table 6) exist also in significant concentrations, with average values of 287 ppm of iron and 2.1 % calcium (dry matter). The presence of large amounts of oxalate(s), ranging from 0.2 to 11.4% (dry weight), may limit availability of these nutrients.

Robert L. Myers, 2010. GRAIN AMARANTH, A Lost Crop of the Americans published by the Jefferson Institute, Columbia, MO,
O’Brien G. Kelly and Martin L. Price, 2008. AMARANTH Grain & Vegetable Types, Published by ECHO. Available at

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