Scarcity of rare cereal leads to outcry of Meru residents

By Joseph Murangiri

What is kamande? Kamande is a type of legume that thrives in hot areas with sandy loamy soils that drain water fast, due to its high tolerance of hot weather conditions. The scarcity of lentils, commonly known as kamande in Kenya has led to the outcry of Meru residents.

Currently, Kamande is the most expensive cereal in the country with a kilogram of it selling at Sh350 and Sh17,500 per a bag of fifty kilograms in Meru town.

Traders at the Meru Gakoromone market attributed the shortage of the highly nutritious grains to high fuel prices for the imported food commodity in Kenya.

Ms. Beatrice Makena, a cereals trader in Meru said that , “The war between Russia and Ukraine has affected importation of lentils, with Canada which is the major producer of it is facing a shortage,’’

Ms. Makena further attaches high demand of lentils to the shortage arguing that they are the healthiest choices for vegetarian persons as they are loaded with nutrients like protein, minerals and fibre. She further asserts the high demand of lentils to their short time of cooking as compared to other cereals.

Ms. Makena argued that most traders have shifted to selling other locally produced cereals due to high shift in transportation cost from Kes 250 as compared to Kes100 , from Nairobi to Meru and the lack of lentil farmers in Kenya contributing.

‘’Lentils can easily be found in Ethiopia, but many people prefer lentils from Canada as they take less time to cook. ‘’ Added Ms. Makena

Mugambi mwiti a trader complained that inadequacy of lentils has made most traders to cease from selling this delicate grain.

Lentil is a legume which is not commonly found in Kenya, however areas such as  Ukambani, Garissa, Wajir, Siaya, Kisumu, Narok South, Kajiado and the entire coastal region would be ideal for lentil farming.

Lentils have huge nutritional value including low cholesterol which helps in reducing risks of heart attacks and strokes in human body. They are rich in soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre easily dissolves in water while insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and is intact as the food goes through the body which helps in stool bulk and helps in preventing constipation.

They are also rich in selenium which helps in preventing growth of tumors in human body and prevent some occurrence of diseases like cancer for breast and colorectal cancer.

This legume crop(lentils) is found in different types including brown lentils which are flat and are the most common, brown lentils varying in colors including khaki brown and they are best used in salads and making soup. There are yellow lentils which are sweeter and soft. The yellow lentils come in varying colors, from the golden yellow to orange.

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