The Sustainable Agriculture Convivium was launched in Thika, central Kenya on June 13 with a celebratory event that brought together producers, Terra Madre food communities and Slow Food members from around the nation.
Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and various NGOs also attended and the local Mayor expressed his support for the young convivium’s future endeavors.
Many local farmers took the opportunity to exhibit their traditional, indigenous foods on the day, sharing information and raising community awareness about the cultivation and culinary uses of their products. Guest speakers highlighted the tremendous knowledge held by these producers and community elders, and the need to pass this information onto the young generations. To this end, one of the convivium’s key focuses for the future is to develop educational programs with local schools.
‘If the youth are taught about indigenous and traditional foods when young, they will grow up well informed and develop their tastes and preferences towards the nutritional value attached to these foods,’ said the convivium leader Margaret Kadi. ‘They will eventually play a major role in converting the society towards better food production and consumption.’
The young convivium also aims to increase awareness of the importance of indigenous foods in their communities, to host indigenous food fairs and forums, organize exchange visits with other convivia and communities, and to work with research institutes to identify rare and endangered species.
The event was hosted by the Kibichoi Food Community, who had representatives at Terra Madre 2004. Several members of the Sustainable Agriculture Convivium have already participated in past editions of Terra Madre, and three members – a chef and two producers of local foods – will participate in 2008.
The convivium also includes representatives of PELUM (Participatory Ecological Landuse Management) among its members – an association which works with farmers in southern and eastern Africa to promote sustainable land-use, encourage the use of indigenous knowledge and advocate for policy change in favor of small-scale farmers.