Burkina Faso lived at a snail’s pace in the last months of February and March 2020, just before the COVID pandemic arrived. Before the measures to slow the pandemic were implemented, limiting travel as much as possible, the Slow Food Burkina Faso network set up a project called “Laafi Riibo” (health food): a Slow Food film caravan for local consumption of good, clean and fair for all, organized with the support of Slow Food International and Lara Lee, the professional Brazilian-American filmmaker who produced the film Burkinabè Bounty.
The caravan was marked by a film screening, an exhibition of local products, tasting of local dishes, and theater performances.
The caravan reached different locations in the network on the territory, including 111 school and community gardens, 2 Sentinels (red rice in Comoé and the yungnan yam of Arbolé), 22 groups processing local products and 17 restaurants of the Alliance of Cooks of Burkina Faso. The response to the caravan was super positive on the part of the public, with more than a thousand people engaged on the ground, and indirectly engaging with radio broadcasts five thousand people with the listeners of the eight partner community radios.
“Despite the difficult security environment at the start of the year, which created distrust for large groups, the level of participation was very satisfactory,” said Jean Marie Koalga, president of Slow Food Burkina Faso. “The caravan is also a huge opportunity to promote respect for our diversity because respect for our differences (food, culture, taste, opinion) is a source of peace. It shows that despite this difficult context, life continues on in the country. If there is one thing we can be proud of it is the perception of Slow Food is increasing considerably in Burkina Faso. “
Involving the participation of community leaders (customary, religious leaders, association leaders, etc.) and the administrative authorities with the sponsorship of the mayors of the Communes almost at each stage; creating tangible results like the market launch of good and fair agroecological products, and the strong demand for theatrical performances and the Burkinabè film “Bounty.”
“We have succeeded in giving visibility to local people and communities who appreciate local products, and in raising awareness of quality local products,” says Rabdo Hamidou, leader of the Yako Convivium and president of “NUG TUUMA” learning and artistic and craft development of Yako. “Thanks to the caravan, we have seen an increase in awareness of local consumption in good, clean and fair conditions, invitations from the network to meetings to share with municipal councils, the commitment of the authorities to support the network in its activities at the local level. Unfortunately, we had to stop all kinds of activities following the pandemic, but we hope to be able to start again this fall and continue in this enthusiastic wake. We have every right to say that if the Slow Food Burkina caravan did not exist it had to be created. “
Quite naturally, the two editions of Terra Madré Burkina celebrated in 2017 and 2019 contributed to this initiative. The caravan is a recommendation that returned several times during these editions, as the events helped launch the Slow Food network in Burkina Faso, presenting the diversity of local products from our communities, note the need to go to the base to promote small producers within the communities.
Having this initiative of proximity meetings truly makes Slow Food a network of communities at the base, and underlines the need to involve local authorities at the municipal level whose main role is local development for strong decisions for the benefit of local communities, with small producers in taking into account strong themes such as family farming, agroecology, peasant seeds, local consumption, food sovereignty, and culture.
This caravan allowed the Slow Food Burkina network to make discoveries, get closer to many other organizations at the local level through invitations, exchanges, and to forge collaborative ties for future actions.
“However, halfway through, and in a difficult security context marked by terrorist attacks, this caravan contributes to the fight against terrorism of which it also proves to be a weapon,” says Jean Marie. “It created strong moments of community, conviviality, and strengthening of patriotic ties around the values found in communities: sharing, solidarity, respect, love for neighbor. It was an opportunity for advocacy and awareness-raising for the strengthening of national unity in the face of terrorist attacks. In fact, at almost all stages, a minute of silence was observed at the request of the authorities present in the memory of the victims of terrorist acts.”
Slow Food Burkina Faso expresses its deep gratitude to Slow Food international and to Lara Lee for the important support; all the mayors of the municipalities visited and to be visited for their availability and their support; all the administrative, customary and religious authorities for their encouragement, the theatrical group of the Center for Learning in Art and Artistic and Handicraft Development of Yako (CAADAY) for the great performances. Also to all the local communities of production, processing, catering for the mobilization, the warm welcome, the presentation of local products of good clean and fair; and all the members of the Slow Food Burkina network for synergy of action.
See you very soon, follow the info on the caravan!