Vitamin A deficiency in arid/semi-arid W. Africa
Vitamin A deficiency in arid/semi-arid W. Africa Ian Darnton-Hill 20.04.2000
Re: Vitamin A deficiency in arid/semi-arid W. Africa Susan E. Burger 24.04.2000
Vitamin A deficiency & Millet Consumption Paul Amuna 04.05.2000

Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 13:36:46 -0400

From: "Ian Darnton-Hill" <IDarnton-HillatHKI.Org>

Subject: Re: Vitamin A deficiency in arid/semi-arid W. Africa?


Dear Dr. Osborn:

Thanks for your interest. I will refer your query to our Senior Advisor here to respond, but also to someone in USAID who may well kknow, as well as our Regional Office and Mali Office. NGONut will also almost certainly be able to help.

I am sure one or other of these will be able to answer you.

with best wishes,

yours sincerely

(Dr) Ian Darnton-Hill


>>> NRMP-ASSISTANT-MALI <> 04/17 1:52 PM >>> Greetings!

Please pardon me writing you both with to ask that someone forward this inquiry to the appropriate party, but there did not appear to be a general e-mail address on your website.

I'm doing some research for public awareness relating to areas ICRISAT works on, and one interesting item that has come up is the relatively high level of vitamin A naturally found in pearl millet* (and at least a couple of yellow varieties have been found to have quite high levels of carotene). I'm interested to fiind out if:

1) You have any information on possible correlations between grains in the diet and levels of vitamin A deficiency (esp. in W. Africa) - would higher levels of millet consumption reduce this deficiency problem? Does the switch to rice as is often found in urban areas of Africa lead to inadequate vitamin A? and

2) Whether by any chance millet has figured in some way in any HKI program in Africa or elsewhere.

Thank you in advance!


Dr. Don Osborn, Consultant, ICRISAT-IRMP Information Resource Management Program International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics B.P. 320

Bamako, MALI, West Africa

Tel: +223 223375

Fax: +223 228683



* See for instance _Lost Crops of Africa_ Vol. 1, pp. 85-6, 118


Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 11:37:23 EDT

Subject: Re: Millet and Vitamin A deficiency in arid/semi-arid W. Africa?


Dear Dr. Osborn:

In response to your questions:

1) No we are not aware of any studies that have correlated millet consumption with lower levels of vitamin A deficiency. We have found high levels of vitamin A deficiency in predominantly millet consuming populations in Niger.

This does not mean, however, that the levels of deficiency might not be even higher if consumption of rice replaced consumption of millet. I'm also not sure whether or not anyone has looked at differences in varieties of millet and differences in levels of deficiency. It might be worth exploring.

2) No, millet has not figured in HKI programs. Shawn Baker, our Regional Director for Africa might be aware of whether other organizations have looked at millet.

Best regards.


Susan E. Burger, PhD, MHS
Senior Advisor for Nutrition and Evaluation

Date: Thu, 04 May 2000 16:22:43 +0100

Subject: Vitamin A deficiency & Millet Consumption

From: "AMUNA PAUL" <> Organization: the University of Greenwich



I agree with Susan Burger's observation on the lack of correlation between millet consumption and low vitamin A defiency levels.

Indeed, if you consider those West African semi-arid areas e.g. Northern Ghana where vitamin A deficiency is common ( in Ghana, there has been a vitamin A supplementation Trial in the Upper East region to reduce the size of the problem), you will find that the major staples are millet and guinea corn.

It seems to me that in these inland, arid areas, people are consuming diets which are mostly from plant sources and are poor in carotenoids. There are however wild-growing fruits e.g. the Dawadawa plant from which a yellow powder can be derived when it is dried. We are at the moment analysing the carotenoid content of this fruit which is commonly eaten in millet-growing areas. We are also formulating nutrient multi-mixes based on these traditional ingredients aimed at improving the nutritional balance in areas of poor food security ( see Amuna et al., Nutrition & Food Science, vol. 30 No. 2&3, 2000).

Best wishes


Paul Amuna MB, ChB; M.Med Sc; FRSH
Consultant Nutritionist & Senior Lecturer the University of Greenwich
Wellington Street, London SE18 6PF