products you can make from maize

Value addition: 5 products you can make from maize besides unga

Thomas Shaefer, MD of Volkswagen South Africa, said that “used cars cannot create jobs.” He was speaking during opening of the Volkswagen’s plant in Kenya. Yes, to create jobs we will have to move ever higher up the value chain.

A simple  way to do this is value addition in agriculture. A crop to target for this is maize. It is the staple food in Kenya. You will find it grown on all of the arable lands in the country. Kenyans have been processing it to unga (maize flour) for generations.


Collectively, we moved its processing from pestle and mortar to posho mills. Today, we have sophisticated maize mills that come in different sizes. Did you know there are other products we can also process from maize? Start thinking of a business plan because here is a list of five products you can make from maize besides unga.

1.Maize Starch

starch vs flour

Maize starch powder is a cousin to unga. The latter, as you know, is made from ground maize kernels (not seeds, we’re fancy). Maize starch, on the other hand, is ground from the endosperm only. It is also coarsely ground unlike its cousin, which is finely ground. The great thing about this processed product is that it is a raw material for many different industries. I’ll give you only a few examples to show how versatile maize starch is. It is used to strengthen ice cream cones, it is used as a filler in pills and to add stiffness to clothes. Not bad.


2.Maize Oil

Vegetable oils are pretty common in Kenya but you can also make cooking oil from maize. The oil is pressed off the germ (the sweet germinating part of the kernel). Like most oils, it too has different uses to exploit. Maize oil is used in cosmetics to make skin-care and hair products. It is also, obviously, used in cooking especially deep frying foods like chips.


this is too much toothpaste

Did you know maize is an ingredient in making toothpaste and mouth wash? That is because of sorbitol, a product derived from maize syrup. Maize syrup is an alternative to sugar derived from maize starch. Yes, sorbitol can therefore also be used to make confectioneries and be a sweetener. The process of deriving sorbitol is more complicated than these other products you can make from maize. But, hey, an industry with a high barrier​ of entry is never a bad thing for participants.

4.Maize Cob Meal

don’t just throw these

One of the waste products that Kenyan farmers discard is maize cob. Yet, it has a valuable role as animal feed. Instead of lighting jikos and bonfires with maize cobs, we should tell the people in ushago to save them up for us when we start our animal feed businesses. Maize cob meal is a fibre for cattle and is made by coarse grinding the cobs. Easy. This is one way to kill ‘gibe job‘ placards.

5.Maize Beer

Photo: Benedicte Desrus

How much do you hate double standards? When white people make beer in non-mechanized ways it’s called craft beer, when we do it our own Government launches a campaign to shut our shops. Surely, if traditional beer like busaa is produced in unhygienic and non-standardized ways why not establish ground rules? Maize can make other liquor like whiskey.

Do you know other products you can make from maize? Share with everyone by commenting below.