Slow Food President Carlo Petrini is in Nairobi today, starting his visit across Kenya and Uganda with a public address to discuss eco-gastronomy and its relevance to African communities as they strive for food security and cultural sovereignty. Following this he will spend several days in Kenya, from March 28 to April 2, and Uganda, from April 3 to 6, to visit local Slow Food projects embodying this philosophy, joined by Slow Food vice-president John Kariuki, of Molo, Kenya, and other local leaders.
The need to involve young people in a sustainable food future will be a key message of his trip, and Petrini will deliver two lectures at universities. In Kenya, he will be at Egerton University on March 30, talking to students and staff of this premiere agricultural institute about the importance of bringing academia and science together with the wealth of traditional knowledge that exists in rural communities. In Uganda, he will give a public lecture at Makerere University – College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences on the role and future of smallholder farmers before meeting with ODLN-AGINSBA – a group of young people using multi-media technology to support smallholder farmers’ access to information and food security.
Petrini will also have the opportunity to visit some of the examples of sustainable local production supported by Slow Food, in particular two of the five Presidia projects in Kenya and Uganda’s first Presidium.
In Kenya, the Lare Pumpkin Presidium has been established with growers on the eastern edge of the Mau Forest, an area of East Africa’s largest mountain forest where food security is of great concern due to the impact of climate change. The local Lare pumpkin variety has been identified as a useful variety to help communities cope with dramatic changes in rainfall patterns.
The Pokot Ash Yoghurt Presidium is an unusual dairy product produced by several villages in West Pokot region, made from cow’s or goat’s milk from local breeds mixed with the ash of the native cromwo tree. The yogurt was once an important part of the local diet but is slowly disappearing as livestock farming diminishes and pride in the traditional food culture adapted to this remote area fades away.
In Uganda, Petrini will launch the country’s first Slow Food Presidium on April 5 – a new project to protect the small production of indigenous Robusta coffee by the Luwero community. Known locally as kisansa, production is so insignificant today that the coffee variety is on the verge of extinction, despite it being recognized as one of the best varieties in the world.
Petrini will also have the chance to experience many other local food varieties in numerous scheduled visits to Slow Food convivia and communities participating in the Thousand Gardens in Africa project in both countries. On his last day, he will join children, teachers and parents at the annual ‘local fruit & juice’ celebrations at Buiga Sunrise Primary School, one of Slow Food’s longest-established school garden projects.
Slow Food is dedicated to working to help find local solutions to the big problems of food insecurity, environmental degradation and cultural loss in Africa. Through the Thousand Gardens in Africa project, the Presidia and campaigns against land grabbing and over-fishing, Slow Food supports the African communities who are fighting for their freedom to establish local economies based on local knowledge, varieties and traditions.
A Thousand Gardens in Africa is Slow Food’s biggest commitment across the continent, currently involving 25 countries. The sustainable food gardens are being created with local communities, with support from around the world, and involve young people while being based on the wisdom of older generations.
For further information on Carlo Petrini’s itinerary in Africa, please view the press releases:
Carlo Petrini visits Kenya, March 28 – April 2