The conservation project of the Network of Indigenous Food Systems, created by the Food Bridge vzw has started in Eastern Nigeria. The aim of this project is to work with local farmers to create a viable circular economy, that supports the growing and marketing of nutritious indigenous crops especially those that are at risk of extinction.
We kicked off the sessions with informative sessions. First learning of the challenges preventing farmers from growing more indigenous crops, we explained to the local farmers the benefits of the project. Not only will they be supported to grow selected indigenous crops in their localities, they will also he assisted to access profitable markets with their products.
The local farmers participation in this project in Ogbaku Agwu local government Area in Enugu State, was facilitated by Canon Levi and Mrs Julie Anyikwa. Through their local knowledge of the farming communities, we were able to also involve Prof Nzelu, who is already working on data collection of indigenous food crops from Eastern Nigeria. She will be the project adviser in the region.
The African Flavours 2018 was a success, with many foodie enthusiasts, vegetarians and vegans in attendance. The discussion session on 'how strange is the vegetarian diet in African food culture', was very interactive and informative too.
The evening started with a welcome remark and introduction by Maureen Duru-Onweni, the founder of The Food Bridge vzw. She pointed out that Africa is a vast continent with a diverse culinary history and food culture. So although meat consumption is valued, there are many plant based dishes too. Thus what is strange may not be the eating of plant based meals but some of the ideologies behind vegetarianism. Speaking further, she stated that like all concepts, there are varied arguments for or against vegetarianism in Africa. Some Africans believe vegetarianism is of African origin but has been appropriated by other cultures, while others see it as part of Asian religious practices, thus not acceptable for them. Yet there are Christians too, who use Genesis 1 verse 29 to support their stance that people were meant to be vegetarians. She concluded her presentation by stating that irrespective of what African food culture is expected to be, like all other food cultures, it will have to change and accommodate divergent food practices to remain dynamic.
The next speaker Ms Jutta Kleber of the BigPicnic project (Meise Botanic Garden), started her presentation by sharing information about the horizon 2020 Bigpicnic project of the Meise Botanic Garden and its focus on African food security. On African vegetarianism, she noted that research supports the view that Africans have a long history of plant based diets. Hence with the challenges of climate change and food insecurity, going back to eating more plant based diets are a better option. This is because much resources including land and water are needed for rearing the animals that produce meat, whereas a fraction of such resources will be needed for growing crops. Moreover, the environmental and health impact of the increasing meat consumption, also has to be taken very serious in people’s dietary choices.
The Helping Hand Project