Roller mills - for developing countries too
Cereals, particularly wheat and maize, are among the basic
foodstuffs in developing countries. The ripe grain is rough-ground or milled to
a fine flour and then further processed into gruel or bread. Cereals certainly
owe their extraordinarily widespread popularity as a foodstuff for man and beast
to the fact that they are balanced and valuable nutrients. Their nutritive
content corresponds very closely to human requirements.
In slightly simplified terms, a grain of cereal consists of the
husk, the farinaceous kernel and the germ. The germ can be described as a
concentration of nutritives and is rich in all kinds of active ingredients. The
kernel consists mainly of carbohydrates while the husk mainly contains ash and
It requires no further explanation to see that, ideally, the
whole of the grain should be used as food, without anything being removed or
modified. But this is only possible if the bread or gruel produced is destined
to be eaten directly after the corn has been ground. This was the custom until
modern milling methods were introduced. This total utilization is now once more
being propagated by nutrition experts.
But there are problems if it is not possible for milling and
food preparation to follow one another directly. Rough-ground maize, for
example, becomes unpalatable for human beings after about four days' storage. It
becomes bitter, acquiring a rancid taste and stale smell.
The reason for this is that the fats contained in the germ and
the husk oxide after crushing. If germ and husk are sieved out during the
milling process, the flour from the farinaceous kernel can be stored for
extremely long periods. This flour, however, consists almost exclusively of
carbohydrates. Modern roller-milling techniques are used to produce this
The finely-ground flour produced in rolling mills has found wide
acceptance particularly in the large towns and population areas of developing
countries. There are various reasons for the popularity of this low-nutritive
yet storable flour:
- All consumers have regular incomes.
- Families in
the high-income range give up the extremely labour-intensive job of grinding the
corn and buy other foodstuffs to replace the missing nutrients.
- In many
families both husband and wife are at work all day. Families with lower incomes
often live a long way from their workplaces, so that they are away from home for
up to sixteen hours. They grasp any opportunity of reducing the amount of
household work required, even though the replacement of a foodstuff of superior
nutritive value by low-nutrient flour is particularly problematic for the poorer
- Many husbands live alone in towns away from their families. They,
too, often spend many hours a day away from home and do not take their meals
regularly, which means that they also prefer to use storable flour.
cereal mills for home use offered for sale in developing countries at the
present time are much too expensive for most families. The machines offered by
manufacturers in industrialized countries depend on the availability of
electricity and high income purchasers. Such goods will only be of interest in
areas where special attention is paid to a balanced and healthy diet.
Given these circumstances, it would seem rather hasty to condemn
roller milling techniques simply because they produce a foodstuff which, in view
of its nutrient composition, cannot be regarded as of high nutritional