The results of a study carried out by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in collaboration with the FAO and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs were presented at the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre on Saturday October 27 at the conference “Discovering Africa’s Riches.” The aim of the research was to identify, study and catalog over 40 traditional products in four West African countries.
The Foreign Minister, Marco Ricci; two FAO representatives, Cristina Scarpocchi and Florence Tartanac; Piero Sardo, the president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity; and Francesco Sottile, an agronomist from the University of Palermo, illustrated the work carried out on a number of local products, which have the capacity to guarantee food sovereignty to the local populations. The protection of these products also allows the preservation of ancestral traditions and knowledge.
The study also laid the foundations for four new Slow Food Presidia, projects that will work to improve all levels of the production and distribution chain for salted couscous from Fadiouth Island (Senegal), Katta pasta from Timbuktu and Gao (Mali), Kenema kola nuts (Sierra Leone) and wild palm oil (Guinea-Bissau). Economic subsidies and training opportunities will help producers reduce post-harvest waste, which currently accounts for around 30% of cereal production and 70% of fruit production, and also to process and preserve the product, guaranteeing all actors a lasting margin of autonomy.
After the coordinators of the study had spoken, the representatives of the four new Presidia then described the significance of these projects to their respective communities.
Saoudata Walet Aboubacrine, from the Katta Pasta Presidium, denounced the racial violence and the religious terrorism that have been afflicting his country, Mali, and emphasized the need to work for peace, reminding the audience that war destroys ancient knowledge and traditions, sending messages of hate and revenge to young people.
Augustin Diop and Leandro Pinto Junior, of the Fadiouth Island Salted Millet Couscous Presidium from Senegal and the Wild Palm Oil Presidium from Guinea-Bissau respectively, thanked the promoters of the two projects and the experts who had contributed to improving the techniques for preserving the couscous and the quality of the palm oil.
Patrick Mansaray spoke for the Kenema Kola Nut Presidium in Sierra Leone, explaining how participation in Terra Madre 2010 had helped the community mobilize to protect the kola nuts. He described kola as a product with an international appeal, like cacao or coffee, and in conclusion thanked Slow Food and the FAO for their support, which has allowed the producers to improve the kola nut storage methods.
Photo: Paola Viesi