From Sahel to Atlantic

04 Apr 2008

EXCLUSIVE – Members of the young, motivated Senegalese Slow Food movement welcomed staff from the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity when they traveled to the West African country recently to meet Terra Madre food communities and convivia on their own soil.

Madieng Seck, a Dakar journalist engaged in local agricultural issues and a contributor to Slow Food publications, guided the visit. Madieng became motivated to work for the protection of local food production following his participation in Terra Madre 2004 and has been a driving force in the national proliferation of the movement ever since.

Today, 17 Senegalese Terra Madre food communities, including fruit and vegetables growers, rice and cereal farmers, dairy producers and traditional fisherfolk and seafood processors have joined the international network.

These producers have also formed three Slow Food convivia: one in a rural area producing local cereal varieties, another bringing together fishing communities along the Senegalese coast and a third in Dakar.

Dakar-based chef Bineta Diallo, another champion for Senegalese regional food, worked with Madieng to develop the ‘Mangeons Local’ taste education program for high-school students. The pilot project was launched in March this year and will be used to develop a model for other schools as well as a similar educational program for producers.

A particularly fascinating stage of the trip was the island of Dionewar, in the Saloum delta — an intricate maze of salt and fresh water, islands and open spaces forming a 180,000-hectare natural park — where three communities collect and process mollusks. Around 50 women came to meet the Slow Food delegation to explain the problems they are facing, notably the crisis of seafood stocks due to pressure from large foreign fleets.

Options to diversify local activities were discussed, in particular the processing of the wild fruit that grows in the area, from the majestic baobab to the small, strongly scented oranges.

To read more about the Senegalese food communities

Bess Mucke
[email protected]

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