A Slow Network for Burkina Faso

Slow Food has an active network of members, food gardens and Ark of Taste products in Burkina Faso. Indeed, choosing to cultivate local varieties, creating a network and promoting sustainable agriculture offer the best path towards change. And the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is not alone in its work: It belongs to the Fondazioni for Africa Burkina Faso project, whose partners include 28 Italian banking foundations, members of ACRI (the association of Italian savings banks and banking foundations); five organizations active in Italy and Africa (ACRA-CCS, CISV, LVIA, Mani Tese and CeSPI); many other local Italian organizations and 27 associations of Burkinabe migrants in Italy.

Thanks to the project, the Slow Food Foundation, with the help of agronomists and members in its network, has started five community food gardens in the Loumbila area and mapped small-scale food products at risk of extinction. Some of these have joined the Ark of Taste, such as Arbolé yam (a candidate to become a Slow Food Presidium), koura-koura biscuits, N’yiéri little millet, otonpienou (a seasoning made from baobab seeds) and Tôroko red rice.

In the coming months, five more community gardens will be established in the department of Loumbila and six community and school gardens in the province of Boulgou. The Slow Food Foundation will continue its work of training, mapping and knowledge sharing to ensure that good, clean and fair food is accessible to everyone in Burkina Faso.

The gardens have been a great achievement for the local people. A few kilometers from the capital, Ouagadougou, in the village of Loumbila, for example, around 150 women grow tomatoes, onions, sorrel, niébé (black-eyed peas), okra and spices in the red soil for their own consumption and to sell at the local markets. With the income, they can put money aside for their families and for their children to go to school. Organized into work groups, they also participate in training sessions on agroecological agriculture methods and the principles of the Slow Food movement as they relate to the production and the consumption of good, clean and fair local food.

The Loumbila gardens are next to the Chez Nopoko teaching farm, which covers 1,200 square meters. Everything here (including the cows, sheep and chickens) is produced according to the rhythms of nature and with respect for the environment. The output includes compost, biogas and electricity as well as agricultural produce. Run by entomologist and University of Ouagadougou professor Moussa Ouedraogo, Chez Nopoko is a place where farmers and anyone who is interested can see, touch and taste what it means to produce in a good, clean and fair way. On Sunday Moussa and his wife turn the patio into a restaurant serving local food.

In Ouagadougou, meanwhile, in the 10th arrondissement/Sector 42, a yellow gate leads to La Saisonniere, a center founded in 2006 by 50 women. They run a school for girls, a tailor’s shop, a community food garden, food-processing facilities and a restaurant. “Our garden is open from Monday to Sunday,” explains Aminata, the school activities coordinator. “Anyone can come here directly to buy the fruits of our work or our processed products: fruit juices, jams and cookies, like those made from baobab, which are the most popular. We sell the surplus at the city market.” Their food can also be sampled here directly, cooked in a good, clean and fair way by Juliette and Mina, who run the kitchen. The Loumbila women participate in exchanges with the women from La Saisonniere, both working towards a “virtuous” model of collective work and ageoecological practices. The gardens in the 10,000 Gardens in Africa project are networked together.

What are the next steps? In July the Slow Food Foundation will host a Burkinabe delegation in Bra for training on its biodiversity-protection projects and in October, for Terra Madre Giovani, another delegation will take part in the event in Milan, sharing knowledge and experiences with other producers from around the world. It is only by forming a network and respecting the land that a sustainable future can be constructed, in Burkina Faso just as much as elsewhere.

Help us to support Slow Food’s 10,000 Gardens in Africa: Click here and find out how!

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