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January 20, 2019

Mathenge weed can cure ailments, be used to make cake — researchers

Samuel Kingori shows mathenge sap that once evaporated is used to spread on bread.
Samuel Kingori shows mathenge sap that once evaporated is used to spread on bread.

Innovators and researchers from Garissa say prosopis juliflora, known as mathenge weed, can treat 27 diseases.

 Fast-spreading mathenge is considered invasive and harmful. It forms impenetrable thickets that choke other plants and grass, leaving the ground bare and prone to erosion. It erodes teeth of livestock that eat it.

Research into the weed and its  benefits was  carried out at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute and Garissa University with help from the African Development Solutions. 

The bush was introduced in Kenya in the late 1960s to stop desertification. But it soon became a nightmare for residents of drylands, who said it was poisonous and hazardous to their livestock. 

In July 2006, a toothless goat was presented as an exhibit in the High Court in Nairobi. It was described as a victim of  a plant ‘gone berserk’.

Yesterday, the researchers said the weed has many benefits that should be exploited. Its pods can be milled into flour for making cake, chapatis, jam and beverages, they said. 

Samuel Kingori said they will try to convince the government chemist and nutritionists to buy the idea. He spoke at Lantern Hotel, Garissa town, during a youth workshop. Mathenge can make high-quality timber, charcoal and animal feed. 

The group found that mathenge flour contains 7.2 per cent protein, 30-70 per cent carbohydrate, 11-30 per cent fibre, and one to six per cent fat.

Adeso programme head Mohamed Ali said bringing youth together helps the community dentify innovations that would end 

persistent drought. 

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