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Instant noodles made with sorghum wheat

Japanese noodle plant opens in Kenya

Daisuke Okabayashi, MD, Nissin Food Holdings
Daisuke Okabayashi, MD, Nissin Food Holdings

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), in Kenya, has partnered with Nissin Food Holdings in Japan to open a food processing factory.

The university and manufacturer will produce chicken and nyama choma flavoured noodles and trade under the name JKUAT Nissin Foods Limited.

When complete, the plant is expected to produce 70,000, 70g and 72g packets of noodles using locally sourced ingredients such as sorghum, a type of wheat which can survive drought and grows in arid areas.

Kenya's economy expanding

"Consumer needs are changing daily with many people relying on food that is tasty and quick to prepare," said Daisuke Okabayashi, MD, Nissin Food Holdings.

This product is easy to cook, has a long shelf life and is nutritious. We shall rely on local sorghum which is our raw material, a product Kenyans are familiar with,”

Kenya’s economy has been expanding at about 3% to 6% annually over the past decade, creating a society that can afford to buy processed foods.

Another factor behind the popularity of instant noodles is more women are going to work, which means they spend less time cooking at home.

According to Okabayashi, Kenya, with its burgeoning population growth, is a ‘promising’ market and its neighbouring countries have ‘great potential’. Its current staple dish is ugali - maize flour cooked with water that looks like porridge.

Professor Geoffrey Ole Maloiy, chancellor, JKUAT said the joint partnership will raise awareness of the university and address food security challenges in Kenya, such as malnourishment.

JICA funding

Maloiy paid tribute to the Government of Japan for laying a strong foundation since 1981, when the then Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture and Technology, the predecessor of JKUAT was established under JICA funding.

JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) provides the socioeconomic development, recovery or economic stability of developing regions.

Tatsushi Terada, ambassador of Japan in Kenya said the initiative would strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

Terada encouraged Africa’s youth to take advantage of Japanese development opportunities such as the African Business Education initiative, a five-year plan providing 1,000 young men and women in Africa with graduate courses and internships at universities and companies in Japan.

JKUAT/Nissin Foods noodles are currently sold in Kenya’s supermarkets outsourced from a subsidiary of Nissin Foods Holdings in India.

Instant Noodles

The world market for Instant Noodles is expected to exceed 154bn packs by 2017, driven by factors such as minimal cooking time, variety of taste, flavour, and low cost.

Other factors include food globalisation, increasingly hectic lifestyles, lesser meal cooking time at home and increasing number of working women.

Nissin began laying the groundwork for its entry into Kenya five years ago when it started giving schools Chicken Ramen dried noodles for free so children from poor families could have lunch.

The company hit upon the idea of donating the noodles to African children as part of its social action policy. It chose Kenya because many athletes on Nissin’s sports team are from Kenya.

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