The Kitarasa Banana is an important element of food culture at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. This banana variety is used to make flour for porridge, to produce a traditional local beer and as mixture with traditional dishes. Nevertheless, Kitarasa producers are decreasing, due to changes in culture, lifestyle, poor market access and the introduction of other varieties.
“Some 20 types of bananas are grown in the Kilimanjaro area, but banana biodiversity is threatened by agribusiness corporations, who have introduced monocultures of the Cavendish variety. For hundreds of years, farmers have selected and preserved different varieties of bananas and plantains, all with distinctive social cultural uses, aromas and tastes. This is why it’s important to support the farming communities that are protecting and defending this diversity which underpins our food sovereignty,” says Edward Mukiibi, President of Slow Food International. “If we move towards uniformity, monoculture and standardization, then fruit species can and will disappear, reducing ecosystemic resilience to climatic stress, pests and diseases.”
Mangulwa village is a center for the other villages of the Rombo district which are united in the new Kitarasa Presidium, which includes 40 producers of Chagga community; these farmers have decided to form dedicated groups in order to revive and strengthen the production of the Kitarasa Banana. They cultivate the Kitarasa and use it for home consumption as well as sale on the local market. The banana leaves are also used traditionally to cover the cooking pot during food preparation and can be used as a plate, as roofing material during house construction, or even for the construction of recyclable umbrellas. The trunk is often cut up into small pieces and used as feed to livestock, while the bark can also be used for fencing.
Rombo District is located in the northern part of Tanzania, one of the six districts of the Kilimanjaro Region. It is characterized by highlands, mountainous peaks and lowlands, mainly covered by vegetation. Most people in the areas are farmers, representing 70% of the total workforce. The Chagga are Bantu speakers are descendants from various tribes who migrated into the once-forested foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The launch will include a number of activities including:
- Open remarks from appointed persons
- The preparation of traditional foods including the Kitarasa Banana
- The tasting and sharing of traditional foods
- An exhibition of products at the Mangulwa Earth Market
- Speeches from Local Slow Food Leaders
- Speeches from guest of honor
- Closing remarks
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The activities mentioned are part of the project to foster community-led initiatives in East Africa by enhancing agroecological productions and market access in response to the global crisis, funded by the Agroecology Fund.
Slow Food International Press Office
Paola Nano – [email protected] (+39) 329 8321285
Alessia Pautasso – [email protected] (+39) 342 8641029
Slow Food is a global network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and counteract the rise of fast food culture. Since its founding, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries, working to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. Slow Food is the umbrella organization responsible for guiding the entire movement.