Child malnutrition is a major problem in Western Uganda where finger millet porridges are commonly used as complementary foods. This study aimed at improving the nutritional value and safety of finger millet porridges using Moringa oleifera, Cucurbita maxima and lactic acid fermentation. Proximate analysis, iron, zinc and vitamin A contents of composite flours was done according to AOAC methods while agar diffusion pouring technique and a seven point hedonic scale were used to analyse antimicrobial and organoleptic properties of the improved millet porridges, respectively. The porridges were developed with the aim of catering for at least 60% daily requirements for protein, vitamin A, iron and zinc for children aged 7-24 months. They were fermented using lactic acid starter cultures. Chi-square tests were used for comparing percentage acceptance of the porridges by mothers. Analysis of variance was carried out and differences among means were compared by Duncan’s test at p<0.05. Fermented millet porridge with 7% M. oleifera leaves had the best nutrient composition and antimicrobial properties while fermented millet porridge with 17% C. maxima flesh was more acceptable by mothers. The porridges are thus a potential solution to inadequate nutrient intakes and diarrhoeal infections attributed to child malnutrition in Western Uganda and most developing countries.
Key words: Nutritional value, traditional millet porridges, western Uganda.