Africa at Cheese 2011
24 Aug 11
Slow Food’s presence in Africa is growing every year. We now have 2,000 members, 300 food communities, 30 Presidia and the Thousand Gardens project in the continent, with dynamic and constantly evolving activities involving farmers, fishers, teachers, students, institutions and associations in 45 countries.
The Terra Madre Food Communities and the Pokot Ash Yogurt Presidium
Visitors to Cheese 2011 will be able to meet herding communities from Mauritania, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso and producers from the Pokot Ash Yogurt Presidium who will travel from Kenya to promote their unique product.
Before the event begins, from September 13 to 16, the African communities will be visiting dairies in the province of Cuneo to meet farmers and yogurt and cheese producers and exchange knowledge about dairy production and livestock farming. The African communities will be hosted by the Cascina del Finocchio Verde, home to one of the Langhe Sheep Tuma Presidium producers; the San Maurizio dairy in Dronero and the Lo Puy dairy in San Damiano Macra.
Kenya – Pokot Ash Yogurt Presidium
The Pokot are an ethnic group of herders native to Western Kenya. They raise local cattle breeds, zebu and goats and produce fresh milk, butter and an unusual ash yogurt. To make the yogurt, milk is poured into long, narrow gourds and left to rest for at least three days. Once the whey has been drained off, the gourd is closed and shaken. When the yogurt is ready, it is mixed with ash from the wood of a local tree, the cromwo, known for its antiseptic properties. The ash flavors the product and gives it a characteristic pale gray color.
Production area: West Pokot, Rift Valley
Burkina Faso – Oudalan Nomadic Herders
Oudalan is a vast border area, located along the invisible lines that divide Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Like the rest of the Sahel, the region is mostly populated by nomadic herding communities. The CRUS (Conseil Régional des Unions du Sahel) brings together around 40,000 herders and nomadic farmers, divided into 1,776 groups. The organization promotes interreligious dialog, the sustainable use of resources and food sovereignty through the realization of pastoral and agricultural potential and the promotion of local products.
Production area: Oudalan region
Ethiopia – Fantalle District Karrayu Pastoralists
Pastoralism and agropastoralism are the main livelihood systems for the Karrayu, a community living in the Fantalle district in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. The Karrayu seasonally move their livestock to better pastures, using permanent settlements in different areas. This system is particularly suited to arid regions and allows the community members to easily adapt to the highly variable conditions. The animals raised by the Karrayu—cattle, camels, goats, sheep and donkeys—allow the community to use different types of fodder and provide food, traction power and a small income.
Production area: Fantalle district, Oromia region
Mauritania – Nouakchott Camel Breeders and Milk Producers
The breeding of camels on the outskirts of Mauritania’s capital is the modern version of an ancient activity, following the wide-scale urbanization that has affected the nomadic populations whose diet is based on milk. In the areas surrounding the capital, many farmers own or manage herds of dromedaries, gathered into groups of 20 to 30 animals allowed to graze freely. Camel milk is sold directly to passers-by and to intermediaries.
Production area: Nouakchott district
Cheese and the Thousand Gardens in Africa
The Thousand Gardens in Africa project was launched by Slow Food at Terra Madre 2010 (Turin, October 21-25). Thanks to massive international mobilization, a thousand school, community and urban food gardens will be created in 27 African countries between 2011 and 2012.
The food gardens will initially be created in the countries where the Terra Madre network is already strong (Kenya, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Morocco, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania) and then in other countries around the continent.
The gardens will be run by local communities who will cultivate mostly traditional crops (vegetables, fruits, herbs and medicinal plants) using sustainable techniques. They will involve young people and will put into practice the wisdom of the elderly. Making a food garden in Africa based on these principles means guaranteeing healthy, fresh food to a community, improving the quality of life and encouraging the passing on of knowledge from the old to the young.
At Cheese, Slow Food has organized a number of events dedicated to Africa and fundraising activities to help support the African gardens.
Film Screening and Discussion
• On Saturday September 17, at 5.30 pm, the documentary Jeans and Martò will be screened in the San Rocco church. The film, directed by Clio Sozzani and Claudia Palazzi, tells the story of a young Karrayu herder and his journey from his village to Terra Madre. The screening will be preceded by a discussion on the challenges facing African herders, involving producers from the African communities at Cheese.
Fundraising Initiatives for the Thousand Gardens in Africa
• Bra businesses for Africa: many local businesses are working with Slow Food to promote the Thousand Gardens in Africa project and raise funds.
• Two of the Slow Food Education activities—the Master of Food Quiz (continuously from Friday to Monday from 11 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm in Piazza XX Settembre) and the Taste Detectives (Friday at 2.30 pm, 4 pm and 5.30 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, 4 pm and 5.30 pm; Monday at 2.30 pm and 4 pm in Piazza XX Settembre)—are free with a suggested donation to the project.
• An aperitivo with Presidium Products, organized in collaboration with African students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, will be held on Friday September 16 at 6.30 pm at the new Slow Food shop (Via Mendicità Istruita 14).
• Literary and Music Café: in the Slow Food Editore courtyard, Via Mendicità 45. Additionally, an information point on all the projects run by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in Africa will be set up in front of the San Rocco church, with a special focus on the Thousand Gardens.
• Within the award ceremony of the Locali del Buon Formaggio on Monday September 19 at 10.30 am at the Teatro Politeama Boglione, in Piazza Carlo Alberto, a Bitto auction will be held and the funds raised will go towards the Thousan