Kenya Indigenous Terra Madre Network: Looking Towards the Future

By Francisco Prieto

Hot on the heels of the International Council meeting in Kenya, the youth of the Slow Food Indigenous Terra Madre network held a meeting and workshop to analyze the challenges facing indigenous communities in Kenya, and to discuss possible solutions and strategies for encouraging and “empowering indigenous youth to defend and promote their food heritage.” The initiative has been launched thanks to a new Slow Food and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) grant, which is aimed at strengthening the ITM network, and specifically the youth network, towards 2020.

From the start, it was clear that awareness building was going to be an important factor for the Indigenous Terra Madre network in Kenya. Community events, network growth, youth engagement, and expressing the very essence of the Slow Food movement were all raised as areas for discussion.

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In order to ensure that all participants had the opportunity to express themselves clearly and voice their opinions, groups were formed to allow everyone to speak in their native language. These groups delved into the challenges facing each of their communities, and what the ITM network could do to help.

The idea of this morning session was to set an agenda, while the afternoon was dedicated to setting the program for the future. As the questions and comments came out in the morning talks, both in general discussion and in the groups, the challenges and issues facing the ITM network in Kenya came to the surface. After lunch, it was time to address these issues and find solutions and paths towards them, creating a clear and achievable strategy for 2020.

As one of the major results of the event, the participants agreed on a network facilitator. Margaret Tunda Lepore, a Maasai youth, was chosen as facilitator, with a first task of presenting the strategy at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, in Turin, later this year. Self-effacing in her acceptance of the role, Ms. Tunda Lepore spoke of the training and the impact of the day’s discussion beyond the four walls of the conference room “this knowledge is not for me, it is meant for my people: I will go back and pass on the knowledge that I have learned here.” Her nomination was supported by the network’s elders, who pledged to support and advise her wherever possible, demonstrating ITM Kenya’s commitment to build on its youth.

IMG_20180621_180644-768x576Margaret Tunda

The strategy in question took a number of hours to define, as the points made during the earlier discussion were addressed one by one. Among the steps for the future, youth engagement was a major theme, and the network will work to increase youth interest and participation (such as creating stronger ties between the Indigenous youth and SFYN Kenya), while training and education, and network growth more generally, were also highlighted as priorities. Additionally, a plan was put in place to raise the network’s standing within the Slow Food movement, by nominating more Ark of Taste products and encouraging participation in future events.

The meeting broke important ground and was overall a success, auguring well for the future of the network.

Alongside members of the ITM network, Slow Food International, Slow Food Kenya, and SFYN representatives attended the event. The collaboration was greatly positive for strengthening the network, and ensured a shared strategy, backed by all divisions of the Slow Food movement in the country.

Despite the clear positives, the meeting also demonstrated that there is a long road ahead for the network in Kenya. Aside from needs to educate and grow the network, the communities involved face many hurdles beyond their control. Having to battle droughts and climate change, rampant pesticide use, and constant attacks on biodiversity (introduction of foreign species that are not hardy enough, and drain the communities’ resources), all while dealing with poor infrastructure, (in some cases without electricity) within a climate of land grabbingconflict and deforestation, make the task ahead of Kenya’s ITM network all the more arduous. This will be no discouragement, however, and driven by its capable and determined members, and bolstered by the solidarity and support of the whole of Slow Food, the Kenyan Indigenous Terra Madre network will succeed and grow into a formidable branch of our organisation.

A Visit to Ogiek Community

5/18/2018

Marioshoni

Beatrix McCarthyMarioshoni pic

 

Over the past few days I have visited several local farmlands throughout Nakuru County. One indigenous community whose practices striked me as particularly unique and breathtaking were the farmers harvesting honey within the Ogiek community in Marioshoni. My colleagues and I were taken what seemed to be deep into the Mau Forest, an area which has provided shelter, a source of identity, income, and generational pride to this community for hundreds of years. From what I was told by the two brothers who were living in this forest is that their land has been under threat by the Kenyan government claiming that this local community imposes environmental hazards to the surrounding land. Without doubt, and without surprise, it is the government who is acting in their own self-interest for economic gains.

Being surrounded by 50 Ft cedar trees — also known as Mutarakwa is very different from the big city landscape I am accustomed to. These indigenous trees serve many beneficial purposes for the Ogiek community — for example they offer rich nutrients to this affluent forest and soil, as well as providing a home for the bees who supply heavenly and luscious honey. This honey is then exported to nearby communities, and is also enjoyed by those within their own population and outside guests. Very high up in several of the trees were logs which we came to learn function as the homes for the bees. Clearly a honey harvesting master, one of the brothers began the process by starting a fire with 2 sticks, and a ball of moss (something I thought only happened in movies)! He then proceeded to climb up this 50 Ft tall cedar tree using a large branch, his hands, feet, and upper body strength. Once in contact with the beehive, he used his self-made fire ball as a tool to ward off the bees and collect fresh honey for us! Although the smoke proved to be very effective, he seemed completely unbothered by the ward of bees clinging on to him, as he simply shook them off.

Once back on the ground, he held in his hand several honeycombs which he then offered us to eat right then and there! This offering made me completely rethink the term farm to table (FTT), as I was witnessing this concept firsthand, and without elitist motives that many western FTT establishments hold. Words cannot describe the richness of this honey as I ate it off the comb standing in the Mau forest with people who live, and have lived there for generations.

Directly after this incredibly humbling and beautiful experience, we were welcomed into the Ogiek community. We were then briefed on the production of their honey, and given a step by step explanation which began with the placement of logs in the cedar trees, harvesting, and then followed by the very old school method — they have no access to electricity therefore honey batches are done in small quantities — of packaging, labeling, and finally distributing.

World Disco Soup day In Kenya

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Disco Soup started 6 years ago in Berlin, Germany, as Schnippeldisko, a ‘protest soup’, against food waste that fed 8000 people. From then on, it started to spread across the world as a fun, meaningful way to bring this crisis into focus. Many different editions have taken place. Each Disco Soup event was individually run, relying on local volunteers to organize every detail, until in 2016, the Slow Food Youth Network Brazil organized a national Disco Soup Day. So, why not do the same internationally? This team came together with the international network of food producers, activists, students and other food professionals and decided to organize the first World Disco Soup Day!

During this day, organizers, attendees, and chefs collect, chop, and cook leftover food or any food that would otherwise go to waste, such as ‘ugly’ food, the products which do not conform to commercial aesthetic standards. During the preparations, and for a long while after, music pump and everyone dances! It is a fun, gastronomic and musical event that brings together young people, students, children, seniors, cooks and all the supporters of this battle against food waste. It is also a transformation tool that brings together diverse knowledge for education and awareness.

Under the same, Slow Food Youth Network Kenya, has organized quite a good number of Disco Soups with a special focus on fight against food losses and waste that happens every year. From Kenya, Brazil to Netherlands and other countries worldwide, the links of the global Slow Food network joined forces on 28th of April 2018, to fight food waste. Slow Food Youth Network Kenya decided to take action against global food losses and waste by organizing World Disco Soup event at St. Ann Children’s home (that comprised of 50 children aging between 9 months- 15 years who are orphans) in Gilgil Sub- County. Together we cleaned, peeled, chopped, cooked and ate the food that was collected to fill bellies instead of the bins or left to rot in the fields or on road sides under the theme, “Share food stop waste!” This did not only bring a smile on the children’s faces but also filled their bellies as well as a big reminder that there are people of good will that remember them beyond the walls of their home.

During the talks/speeches a number of things on food waste and simple solutions were pointed out, that could be adopted as we intensify this fight. One, we do believe that by sharing food with the less fortunate people in the society could be one way to stop food losses and waste as well as being a Blessing to them. As one said:

“Two birds with one stone. @SFYN, this is the perfect example of how the youth can play an important part in enhancing food security- by helping provide food for the less fortunate and reducing food waste at the same time. Keep it up guys, you are truly an inspiration. #sharefoodstopwaste#worlddiscosoupday!”  

Route to Food commented on our SFYN Kenya facebook page.

We also thought of calling upon the County governments together with National government to forge way forward that will help the rural poor who are mainly food producers, to have proper ways to handle their harvests (in developing countries, food losses happens due to poor harvesting methods, poor storage and handling) as well as assisting them to come up with value addition facilities that may help them to minimize perishable food losses and waste. We could not forget the consumers who also take part in this mess of food wastage. We called upon them to mind their purchases. Purchasing food according to the plan minimizes food waste because the food is finished before going bad. Last but not least, we called upon our supermarkets to share food (whose expiry dates are near) with the needy to avoid this food finding its way to the bins.

As Jobu Kym commented on our SFYN Kenya facebook page, Feels like you guys should bring your campaign in the US where 60% of cooked food ends up in the garbage disposal… This is where real food waste is” I believe that little actions with time wherever we are will surely help to minimize or even stop food waste for good. Let’s keep working towards winning this global challenge. Spread the word and act!

 

Terra Madre Salone Del Gusto 2018

Organized by Slow Food, the Region of Piedmont and the City of Turin, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto will be taking over Turin from September 20 to 24, 2018.

“Food for Change” is the guiding theme of this 12th edition of the world’s most important event dedicated to good, clean and fair food, from the program of conferences and Taste Workshops to the immense Market to the Terra Madre Forums where farmers and food artisans from around the world will be gathering.

 

Food for change is the revolution we want to launch in preparation for this upcoming event. In 1996, Slow Food organized the first-ever Salone del Gusto in Turin to support small-scale, artisanal, quality food production as it struggled to compete in the global market. In 2018 the aim is to get co-producers to play an even more active role in the production process. How? By inviting everyone to participate, and reflect. As consumers we are used to seeing ourselves as the last link in the chain, making us increasingly inclined to simply accept whatever the market wants to palm off on us. The reality is that the market is us, and we can (and must) shape it ourselves, with our choices. This is the invitation made by Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2018: to think about our buying decisions and use food to bring about necessary change to ensure our planet’s future, contributing to constructing a food system that is better, fairer and cleaner. We have the chance to be informed and to choose, the simplest and most powerful tool, available to all. Because when we decide what to eat and how, we are also deciding what kind of economy to support, what relationships to prioritize, if and how we want to protect natural resources and the environment, if and how we want to defend the rights of workers and our own health. Without forgetting that a food produced in an environmentally friendly way, with respect for the dignity of its producers, is also more beautiful and delicious.

In addition to the main theme of Food for Change, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2018 will also open a window onto the policies of the Slow Food movement, as defined during the International Congress in Chengdu last September. The most important relates to the desperate and largely unheard warnings about global warming, which demand action from all of us. We have mobilized scientists, experts and farmers around this urgent issue, and #foodforchange is also the theme of Slow Food’s campaign to help everyone understand what food they should choose in order to reverse the trends of a food system with heavy impacts on the environment, society and human health.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2018 will once again take over many locations around the city of Turin, as well as spreading out into the surrounding region of Piedmont. We will be calling on all of Turin and Piedmont to participate even more fully in the event this year, inviting individuals, organizations, associations and any other interested parties to contribute their own initiative to the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2018 program.

The program will feature more than 900 exhibitors, Slow Food Presidia producers and food communities from over 100 countries who visitors can meet during the five days of the event. Additionally, 7,000 Terra Madre delegates from 143 countries will be participating in seminars, meetings and debates, making our event truly unique.

The Market will return to the Lingotto Fiere pavilions, along with some of the Terra Madre network activities, while others will be held in the city centre. The conferences are being organized together with Turin’s Circolo dei Lettori, while the Taste Workshops, offering in-depth explorations of specific foods and beverages guided by their producers, will be hosted in the Palazzo della Giunta Regionale in Piazza Castello. The Enoteca, meanwhile, will be held once again in the splendid setting of the Palazzo Reale.

The full Terra Madre Salone del Gusto program will be released in June following an official presentation. Meanwhile regular updates can be found on www.salonedelgusto.it

#foodforchange #terramadre #terramadre2018