The major surprise of the 2nd day of the international workshop on African Food Heritage -ALIPA on the 25th May, was the arrival of the Tunisian Ambassador to Cameroon H. E. Jalel Snoussi with a team that shared the Tunisian experience on how to valorise their products that competes in the international market like the olive oil, Tunisia is the 3rd world producer and 2nd world exporter of this product. The Tunisian delegation demonstrated the steps taken to standardise their products after international norms. This was followed by the presentation of the Tunisian traditional meals to participants. The Tunisian Ambassador expressed his adoration for the harmonisation of food and heritage with geographical indications and reaffirms his support to the Executive Secretary of CERDOTOLA.
The international workshop of African Food Heritage-ALIPA was divided into four sessions. The first was based on African food heritage, know how, transformation, conservation and valorisation. The initial part of the presentations was moderated by Henri Moussima in replacement of Professor Daniel Abwa from the University of Yaounde 1, and continued the next day by Professor Bienvenu Denis Nizesete from the University of Ngaoundéré.
Topics ranged from what do we eat, fermented African food items in the past and present, culinary in the grassfield of Cameroon and historical events, the quality of locally produced drinks (Bili Bili), consumption of taboo meat in the Beti tradition, local practice and quality of “Bobolo”, the consumption of “Koki” by the Sawa’s in Cameroon as well as Ndole becoming a national meal in Cameroon.
During discussions, participants questioned the need to change mentality, inquiring the reason they were not served African traditional dishes during the opening ceremony, especially from Cameroon.
It was highlighted that local products must be promoted. According to His Majesty Bruno Mvondo, wild mango seed (ogbono) is being exported from Cameroon to Nigeria in tons. Other examples include “Eru” or “Okok”.
Meanwhile to Dr. Eric Fofiri Nzossie from the University of Ngaoundéré, Africans eat at any occasion, being happy or sad. Therefore, there is a necessity to create a database for African traditional dishes.
Debate also conveyed the need to show case restaurants that present only traditional dishes. In Yaounde, one was identified that prepares food from the North West, South West and Littoral Regions of the country with a high customer base. On the way forward, it was agreed that research remains a dominant factor for the transformation, conservation and promotion of African food heritage.
Presentations on the second session was dedicated on socio-economic and cultural challenges on African food heritage. Case study on culinary art and seduction in Guiziga in the Far North Region of Cameroon, the kind of vegetables, roots and plants used in different occasions like aphrodisiac, women after child birth or during menopause.
Institutional accompaniment on African food heritage made up the third phase of the workshop. To Dr. Pascal Atangana from The National Geographical Indication Committee- CONAPIG of the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Cameroon according to him is focused on how to protect products through their geographical location. They work with other partners for this and they have two cases in point : the Oku white Honey and the Penja white pepper from Cameroon. Meanwhile, several products in Africa have been identified but one of their challenges remains imitations.
The fourth and last session concerned the process of food heritage, moderated by Professor Robert Ndjouenkeu. Exposes focused on the promotion of the Cameroon food heritage and trials, the challenge in the preservation of the African food identity, highlighting Cameroon diets in the tourism sector…
From these observations, a change of attitude was recommended like to introduce our local diets in university canteens that mostly serve foreign items: rice, spaghetti and tomatoes sauce with maquereau (imported fish). To return to our traditional dishes that have even therapeutic properties and eliminate diseases like diabetes and cancer. Several University dons from Ngaoundéré and Yaoundé in Cameroon and other universities like Benin, Senegal, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire and the Food and Agricultural Organisation-FAO also made presentations.