Africa comes to Burkina Faso for Terra Madre

Terra Madre Burkina Faso has brought joy to the hearts of the Burkinabés,” said Yacouba Sawadogo, the Burkinabé farmer better known as the man who stopped the desert, who had brought his products to Ouagadougou from the village of Gourga.

“I want to personally thank Slow Food, because through its projects and awareness-raising campaigns many things have changed here in Burkina. In the past the people did not think highly of local products, but now they have started to appreciate them and grow them again. Thanks to the studies and research that Slow Food is doing to safeguard food sovereignty in Burkina, I wish you all the strength and health to ensure that your project can go far. I hope that this edition of the event is the first of many!”

Terra Madre Burkina Faso, an event organized by Slow Food and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity as part of the Fondazioni For Africa Burkina Faso initiative, was held on February 3 and 4 in Ouagadougou, the country’s capital. Many small-scale producers were able to come together and feel united in the pride of being able to display the fruits of their land, cultivated thanks to traditional knowledge passed down through the generations.

The event was a unique occasion to talk directly with local producers, to see their eyes shining as they talked about how a product is grown or how it can be used in the kitchen. Even linguistic difficulties were overcome, given that many of the producers spoke only Mossi (Mooré), the most widely spoken language in the country along with French, or local dialects.

During the event’s two days, the Terra Madre Burkina Faso market hosted around 30 stands and over 200 delegates from all over the country. Five international delegations from Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria and Togo also participated in the event.

A yam producer and member of the country’s first Slow Food Presidium prepared a delicious spicy red sauce to sample with fried yam. “Slow Food has allowed us to be known at a national and international level,” she said. “Thanks to the support of the Presidium we are even more sure that our product must be protected and we feel proud to continue to produce the yam and to pass our knowledge down to our children.”

Many products were on display at the market stands. The most unusual? Shitumu, caterpillars that live on the shea tree and eat its leaves, which are blanched in boiling water and then dried before being eaten as a snack or added to tomato sauce. Also on sale was the chierla, a dried fruit eaten in the morning to give energy and vigor, and moringa seeds, given to children because of their high vitamin content, or used to treat high blood pressure. The dried leaves of the moringa tree were also available, used in various dishes, as well as neré seeds, in the form of a condiment or soumbala, little balls used to season fish or meat. Growers from a recently created Presidium, for red rice from Comoé, a province near the Côte d’Ivoire border, also brought shea butter and natural honey from the Comoé Leraba.

Various local juices came from the Komisalga department, in the Central Region: ginger (spicy but very refreshing), tamarind and bissap (hibiscus). Two brightly dressed Peul women from the village of Yrwal, close to the town of Bobo-Dioulasso, in the southwest of the country, brought several products at risk of extinction, including fe (fonio), dema dugum (black beans) and deme (red beans).

Some producers from the northern departments of Bossou, Bagaré and Yako prepared samsas, beignets made with bean flour, a popular snack in Burkina Faso usually made and sold along the roadside.

Many local products came from the Côte d’Ivoire, including gnan gnan (small African eggplants), pèssè (kola nuts) and akpi, a kind of round seed already on board the Ark of Taste, as well as many vegetables, like those from the gardens of Watinoma (a community near the capital), honey from the Topoa producers, rice from the Mogtedo producers, peanuts and niebe (an Africa variety of black-eyed peas) from the Manegre women’s group in the town of Ziniaré, tomato and niebe sauces from the Nerwaya association of women producers in the Donsin, many fruits and shea butter.

I’m really happy about this first edition of Terra Madre Burkina Faso,” said Jean Marie Koalga, chair of the Terra Madre Burkina Faso Organizing Committee. “The main objective was to define the prospects and future of Slow Food in Burkina Faso and strengthen the network, which was able to meet in Ouagadougou for the first time. The positive feedback and compliments we received during and after the event are a strong sign of the great impact that Terra Madre Burkina Faso has had on the national network. Thank you to Slow Food and to Fondazioni for Africa Burkina Faso for this initiative and for all the support that allowed the event’s first edition to be a success.”

Barka*, Burkina Faso!

*”Thank you” in Mossi, the local language