The Wakkad Tigri Mussels Presidium is established to preserve an activity that fosters social cohesion in the community of Tigri women in Tamri Agadir
On April 30, with the conference “Regenerate and add value, the significance of a Slow Food Presidium” organised in the Chambres des Rencontres in Tiznit town, by the Amazigh women of the Slow Food Community located in Tamri Agadir, the Wakkad Tigri Mussels Slow Food Presidium is officially launched and joins the other five Slow Food projects in support of food biodiversity already existing in Morocco.
The programme, starting at 2pm, includes a confrontation between Amazigh women of six cooperatives that are members of the Presidium and come from Grayzim, Sidi Boufdail, Sidi Bounouar, Aglou, Douira and Teguert. Speakers will discuss the meaning and the expectations of being a Slow Food Presidium with the public; they will be Yamna Agaliou, Fatima Atanan, Fatima Msayah, Saadia Dibe.
“Wakkad ” is the Amazigh (Berber) term used for the mussels harvested and smoked following a traditional technique that has been done for centuries along the rocky coast of the Souss Massa region, in the West South coast of Morocco. The waters here have a high ecological value, due to the influence of the cold marine current of the Canaries and the presence of emanations from the depths of cold submarine waters. These cold waters all year round favour the presence of nutrients, serving as food for numerous fish.
Tigri is another Amazigh term which designs both the coastal shellfish – which are one of the main food resources of the local population – and the lunar period in which the harvest takes place. There are two Tigri periods each month: the first one occurs between the end of the lunar month and the beginning of the following lunar month; the second occurs three days before and three days after the full moon.
The women collectors respect the rules according to the traditional knowledge and have included them in the Presidium: a minimum size, not harvesting inferior to 6 cm length mussels. Sustainable harvesting of seafood represents an important additional source of income for households, but the job can be dangerous, as the Atlantic Ocean has strong currents and women have to venture for collection on rough and slippery rocks.
Harvest and processing
The mussels, dried and smoked, can be kept for up to a year and used in the preparation of tajines (a typical dish of Maghrebian cuisine which owes its name to the clay pot in which it is cooked). The traditional technique of processing mussels preserves and intensifies their taste and characterises the dishes cooked with the intense touch of the sea and the smoky note which varies according to the wood used. Mussels’ harvesting is an activity that fosters social cohesion in the community. The women go to the sea together and use different tools with which they detach the mussels from the rocks. When the tide rises and women return to the beach, they change their clothes to dry, gather shrubs to make tea, and they arrange the mussels in a circle. They place the wood on top to be burnt and light a fire for 5-10 minutes. After it has been extinguished, all the ash residues are eliminated. Then, the mussels are opened and extracted, and laid out on a clean fabric in the sun. Mussels dry 1-2 days depending on the intensity of the sun. When they become hard and break easily, they have reached the correct dryness.
The importance of the Presidium
Yamna Agaliou, president of the Tigri Women’s cooperative and spokesperson for the Tigri Wakkad Slow Food Presidium declares: “I am convinced that this Tigri Wakkad Presidium will help us a lot to preserve our food tradition. The added value that it will give is to be able to preserve it and sell it at a reasonable price so that these women producers can have more money to get a comfortable life. Through the Slow Food network, we can have access to the international market and participate in events to show our food product, so that we can preserve our traditional know-how, push new generations to make smoked mussels and to recognize the importance of our tradition, to ensure that it lasts and to ensure the sustainability of this product too”.
Edward Mukiibi, president of the global Slow Food movement, adds: “One of Slow Food’s main goals is to promote biodiversity and therefore knowledge of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems and best fishing and food crafting practices. Small-scale fishers and communities living on coastal marine resources are the victims of industrial fishing. We see many cases where large boats fish in the areas where only small-scale fishers should be fishing. This is a consequence of damaging policies by governments and institutions that sell off fishing rights along their coasts and condemn small-scale fishermen to marginalisation, along with a whole range of collateral activities, such as the one carried by the Wakkad Tigri Mussels Presidium’s women. They represent instead an important contribution to the food security of those coastal communities. Such policies have repercussions on the entire coastal ecosystem, along with other problems due to climate change and environmental degradation. With the establishment of this Presidium, we want to to draw the attention of politicians and authorities about the environmental value of these traditional activities, and also to honour a women’s community that, with persistence and pride, continues to preserve a unique gastronomic heritage”.
The Wakkad Tigri Mussels Presidium is financed by “Africa per Pietro”, an agricultural and vocational training social project dedicated to the honour and memory of Pietro Vellegri as part of the project in support of the Slow Food Communities of Sidi Bounouar (Aglou-Tiznit).
For more info please contact the Presidium coordinator
The Slow Food Presidia project supports quality production at risk of extinction, protects unique territories and ecosystems, recovers traditional processing methods, and safeguards native breeds and local plant varieties. Today, almost 650 Presidia involve more than 14,000 producers worldwide.
Slow Food is a global network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and to counter the rise of fast-food culture. Since its foundation, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries and working to ensure access to good, clean and fair food for all. Slow Food is the umbrella organisation responsible for leading the entire movement.