Ark of taste
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Nénuphar, Ninfea 

Belonging to the scientific genus of Nymphaea or known by its more common name of diakhar in the Wolof language, the water lily is the only aquatic species used for subsistence and as source of income in villages located in the north of Senegal, in the regions of Dagana, Podor and Matam. The leaves, fruits and the tuberous roots are all are used. It is an aquatic plant that grows spontaneously on riversides but it can also be classified as a cereal since it has green grains that women harvest and dry in order to keep it longer. Once dried it is brown in color.   Among the Wolof community, traditional medicine represents the wisdom and skills healers need to learn and pass on to future generations to cure illnesses using natural remedies. It is knowledge and experience that has been passed down for generations through today. Amongst the plants from the Débi and Djoud areas, diakhar is one of the most used, both in traditional medicine and in the kitchen. Depending on the type of water lily (there are three different types: Nymphaea micranta, Nymphaea lotus and Nymphaea maculata) and the dosage, different illnesses can be treated such as diabetes, stomachache, cough and fatigue, can be treated.   According to tradition, women are the only ones responsible for collecting the water lily, which they used when rice was scarce in order to prepare a dish called “fish rice.” Its history is bound to the Senegal River. Women soon discovered this product and it became part of their everyday diet, well before the arrival of conquerors. With the arrival of rice, diakhar was neglected as the harvesting and processing required a lot of physical effort compared to rice. However, diakhar is still present in local dishes of the Senegal River, and local people still use it despite the decreased production. It is harvested both for family use and for sale.   There are multiple reasons for the potential disappearance of the water lily in Senegal. Climate change and desertification negatively affects the natural habitat, and the emphasis on rice production has lead many women to abandon the tradition of collecting the water lilies. The collection and processing of diakhar is time consuming, and chemical products discharged into the river have not only reduced the production, but have also changed the taste of this product, adding to the increasing preference for rice.

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Cereals and flours


Indigenous community:Wolof