They provide innumerable benefits to agricultural systems around the world at all levels of the value chain, but their contributions often go unrecognized. This year, for the U.N. International Day of Rural Women (IDRW) on October 15, the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) would like to honor the significant contributions that women make to agriculture around the world by sharing photos and stories via our social media channels from our new book, “Portraits of Women Working with Maize in Mexico.” This nationwide documentary initiative seeks to shine light on the often unseen contributions that rural women make to their families, communities, countries and the world through agriculture.
Posts Tagged ‘Maize’
The CIMMYT Global Maize program, with funding from the MAIZE CRP, recently produced a series of videos on nixtamalization, the process of cooking and steeping dried maize grain with water and lime (calcium hydroxide) in order to unlock important nutritional benefits. The video is meant to serve as an instructional tool to inform the public about the positive nutritional and physical characteristics the nixtamalization process can bring to maize.
Nixtamalization is a traditional maize preparation method that has been practiced in Central America for centuries. The process induces changes in the kernel’s structure, chemical composition, physical properties and nutritional value; increasing the calcium content as well as the bioavailability of protein and niacin. This helps to prevent malnutrition and related diseases such as pellagra and kwashiorkor in populations that consume a maize-based diet, as maize, while very nutritious, is deficient in certain important amino acids in its raw form. The nixtamalization process also allows for the creation of masa, or maize dough, which can be formed into many traditional food items that form the basis of Central American diets, such as tortillas.
The videos explain both the traditional domestic and modern industrial process of nixtamalization, and include interviews with local “nixtamalization experts,” millers and tortilla makers who have been practicing the art of nixtamalization for decades.
To view the video on the nixtamalization process, please click here.
To view the “nixtamalization expert” video, please click here.
Only 20 years ago, the idea that maize could reduce vitamin A deficiency (VAD) would have been summarily dismissed. Agricultural scientists were focused on increasing yields and developing more robust varieties that could withstand the constant assault of new pests and diseases. The idea of making maize and other staple food crops more nutritious by breeding in vitamins and minerals, a process called biofortification, was a novel concept. However, with the launch of HarvestPlus in 2003, a collaborative research partnership was launched to bring together scientists across disciplines in an effort to reduce hidden hunger caused by micronutrient deficiencies. One of the fruits of this partnership were the world’s first “orange” maize varieties rich in vitamin A. This ‘orange’ vitamin A maize has been conventionally bred to provide higher levels of provitamin A carotenoids, a naturally occurring plant pigment also found in many orange foods such as mangoes, carrots and pumpkins, that the body then converts into vitamin A.
A Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) study funded under the Competitive Grant Initiative of the MAIZE CRP, “Gender Matters in farm Power,” investigates how gender matters in small-scale farm power mechanization in African agriculture, particularly in maize-based systems in Ethiopia and Kenya. KIT collaborated with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s (CIMMYT) Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project on the study in order to leverage FACASI’s experience with national project partners and to build on and complement the project’s work.