A New Slow Food Presidium Launched in Uganda to Protect Ancient Millet Varieties

30 Nov 2016 | English

Thanks to the work of Slow Food Uganda and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, a new Presidium protecting four traditional millet varieties has been established in Uganda.

The Presidium’s 30 producers belong to the Teso ethnic group, an indigenous Nilotic people who for over two centuries have lived in the east and north of Uganda. The different traditional varieties of millet represent an essential food source (the staple of the daily diet) and has a great identity-forming importance. However, the survival of these varieties is threatened by the introduction of other, more fast-growing varieties that come from research institutes but that cannot resist long period of drought and do not have a constant yield, if replanted.

The four traditional millet varieties, Emoru, Emiroit, Engweny and Ebega, each have specific characteristics. Depending on the type, the small spikes are either separated or united in a single inflorescence, and the grains are dark yellow or brown in color. Tall-stalked Ebega and Engweny are ideal for preparing ataapa (a kind of millet polenta) and akouma (porridge). Drought-resistant Emiroit and Emoru are the best suited to the production of beer, ajono.

“This will be one of Slow Food’s most significant Presidia in Uganda,” said Slow Food Vice-President Edie Mukiibi. “It protects one of the cereals that is most important to the subsistence and history of the country. I’m certain that these four traditional varieties, under threat from hybrids, will once again be able to serve the Teso people. I’m particularly grateful to the producers and to the Kyere sub-county authorities who have decided to protect this heritage of ours.”

The Presidium was started to support the work of the Teso farmers and safeguard local biodiversity. Charles Oile, one of the representatives of the producers, said: “We have to nominate all of the traditional products of the Teso people to the Slow Food Ark of Taste. Our millet varieties have been selected and recognized as essential by our ancestors, and now no scientific research would dare to underestimate their value.”

The members of the Presidium are also involved in the management and promotion of six Slow Food agroecological food gardens (three community and three school gardens). The establishment of the Presidium is supported by representatives of the Onyaiti BAG producers and Oile Charles and the Fondo di Beneficienza Intesa Sanpaolo.

Slow Food protects biodiversity with projects around the world. To continue this work, we need everyone’s help and participation. http://donate.slowfood.com/en/

For further information, please contact the Slow Food International Press Office:

[email protected] – Twitter: @SlowFoodPress

Slow Food is a global grassroots organization that envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries. Among them, a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members are linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide, contributing through their membership fee, as well as the events and campaigns they organize. As part of the network, more than 2,400 Terra Madre food communities practice small-scale and sustainable production of quality food around the world.

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