Terra Madre Burkina Faso 2019: The Slow Food Network Stands Against Terrorism

After the first edition in 2017, the second edition of Terra Madré Burkina Faso was held on February 2 & 3 at the Maison du Peuple, Ouagadougou. The event was a huge opportunity for communities, consumers and people active in local consumption to meet, discover, re-discover, present, and promote the diversity of around 100 local products from the traditional cuisine, and to share knowledge and experiences.

Behind the event there is a story that I don’t think many people know: this year, the Terra Madre Burkina Faso event threatened by international events related to terrorism. Despite the fact that many advised us to cancel the event because of the potential danger of terrorist attacks, we decided not to bow to this war of terror and show how good, clean and fair food can unite people and pave a road towards peace. This choice turned out to be the right one, and the risk paid off: more than 200 Slow Food Network delegates came from all over Burkina Faso and from neighbouring countries, even passing through the highly dangerous red zones, to be at the event. The courage shown by delegates was rewarded by visitors, as more than 800 participants made it to Terra Madre Burkina Faso, making it one of the main events bringing together producers from West Africa.

The theme of this edition, local consumption and protection of biodiversity, highlighted the importance of promoting local products in an increasingly threatened world. The presence of 40 stands, tastings of local dishes from 5 different countries, and exchange frames in three panels and film screenings demonstrated the need for action and the value of Slow Food’s eco-gastronomic approach in order to preserve and promote a world rich in its diversity: a diversity supported by our local communities through small producers.

As President of the Organising Committee, National Coordinator of Slow Food Burkina, and Slow Food’s International Advisor for West Africa, I am delighted to have made my modest contribution to the organisation of this great event, but most importantly to have experienced these wonderful visits and exchanges that were both edifying and challenging on how we consider local products.

Two major facts from this event deserve to be highlighted: Burkina Faso officially joined the international project of the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance (already operating in 20 countries), and launched 50 new Slow Food communities. It is encouraging to see how dynamic and proud the country’s Slow Food network is in marking their membership to the philosophy of good, clean and fair food.

As consumers, we all owe these brave producers, processors, cooks, and communities well-deserved recognition for the enormous efforts that they make every day to give value to biodiversity. For example, to the Gourmantche community of Tapoa, in Burkina Faso, which produces Tapoa honey, the product that Slow Food recently declared the 5,000th product aboard the Ark of Taste, a strong show of solidarity with the Burkinabè network.

Finally, we must pay tribute to all these valiant communities of small producers and partners from Burkina Faso, but also from the Five West African Countries of Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali and Togo with this diversity of high value local products. I would like to express our gratitude to all the visitors, consumers, panelists, moderators, and authorities whose presence, availability, and valuable contributions reinforced the fantastic success of the event. Thanks again to Slow Food International for the multifaceted support and to the Foundations for Africa Burkina Faso for the support, without forgetting the Cultures of Resistance Network Foundation for their great support as well as the enhancement of our work through the film Burkinabè Bounty.

 

To all of you a big thank you!

Long live the Slow Food family!

Onwards for the good, the clean and the fair!!!!

Jean Marie Koalga

Terra Madre Burkina Faso (2nd Edition) was produced under the aegis of the Ouagadougou City Hall and with the support of the Foundations for Africa Burkina Faso and the Foundation Cultures of Resistance Network.

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