With the launch of the international workshop of the African’s Food Heritage Program (ALIPA) presented from May 24th to 26th 2017 I Yaoundé, CERDOTOLA has taken a decisive step towards its powerful upswing. Promoting the African culture heritage is the path on which CERDOTOLA is ineluctably committed now.

The vision of the Executive Secretary Professor Charles Binam Bikoi has been gradually translated into concrete actions with the launch of ALIPA. He is convinced that the development of Africa is possible through the value and the industrialization of its rich and varied cultural heritage.

When Hippocrates said long before Jesus Christ that “Let thy food be your medicine and thy medicine be your food”, he was setting the stage of the need of paying attention to any incongruous and inappropriate food in view of the preservation of the health and human species. Thus, food is at the centre of human life.

The launching workshop of the ALIPA program comes in the context where markets liberalization and food processing-industry of Africa have led to serious consequences on crops and food identities: food standardization, trivialization of the taste, concerns related to food, westernization and globalization of life and consumption modes and food policies. It becomes difficult to keep a national or local gastronomy. During a conference on food heritage, Pierre Mevellec (1979) said the increasing degradation of the food chain has as consequence the progressive destruction of the rural human tissue and the biological balance on one hand and the standardization and homogenization of eating habits”. Contemporary African food greatly influenced by globalization is marked by economic exchanges that polarize life styles and food patterns.

The revival and the freedom of African people tributary for centuries is a process that requires an endogenic approach because only Africa owns the keys and means of its emancipation. It is from this approach that the Executive Secretary of CERDOTOLA regrets the extraversion of Africa in the sector of food and condemns those huge amounts of money that African countries spend in the importation of food products. He has expressed the deep belief that ALIPA is a unique opportunity that can industrialize the African food heritage and turn it into a real deposit of resources and jobs absolutely in the new strategy recommended under the form of a Social contract of Development through the PADETRA (African Pact of Development and Emergence through its Traditions), CERDOTOLA’s Trojan horse.

CERDOTOLA, an international, pan African and worldwide institution has from May 24th to 25th 2017, historic dates, sets the early stages of hope and dream of an entire continent compromised but worried about it well-being. Africa with its total membership has laid the foundations of a reflexion on African food heritage that will inevitably lead to the determination and commitment of the participants in taking concrete and obvious actions in favour of local meals and dishes in the next months. So, participants coming from the entire Africa (Benin, Tunisia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, RDC, Brazil and Europe) and constituted of all the specialisms (anthropologist, economists, nutritionists, agronomists, agro-economists, jurists…) formed an attractive sample group. The participants’ quality has reassured the Executive Secretary, Professor Charles Binam Bikoi who declared that he did not have any doubt on the relevance of the resolutions after this international scientific cocktail. The quality of the articles presented by the good care of Professor Esther Ngah, biologist, nutritionist and coordinator of the ALIPA program and the workshop needs to be congratulated because it herald good prospects. She declared to be convinced that “imported products are responsible of our aches while local products guarantee our well-being”. It is from this perspective that we need to fight against their disappearance.

The various participants to this meeting have known how to share their knowledge for the success of this historic event. Professor Charles Binam Bikoi asked what does an African of the century 21st century eat? He highlights that African diet is influenced by western products. According to him, it is time to set Africa free from food colonization. This seems to be a great challenge given to the ALIPA program that will have to contribute to the diffusion and the value of African food, to set it free culturally and economically. The ALIPA workshop was lined up around four axis:

Axis1. African foods heritage: local knowledge, customs, transformation, preservation and value. This axis aims to study the know-hows in terms of production, varieties and transformation of African food heritage.

Axis2. Socio-cultural and cultural stakes of food heritage in Africa: this axis focus particularly to the sociologic and anthropologic dimension of food heritage and will deal will production, distribution and consumption.

Axis3. Institutional support of food heritage in Africa that implies the legal dimension and the issues related to transformation standards and preservation of our products. It highlights a challenge of labelling of African heritage food.

Axis4: the process of food heritage has questioned the mechanisms adopted by African governments for the protection of local products.

Diverse lectures and debates of the participants have allowed bringing out the following parts and areas of activity:

Part 1: Research and development

This important part comprises three essential fields of activity:

  • Typology of patrimonial food

This field comprises fundamental aspects: concept framework, theoretical framework (terminology, history and fundamentals); methodologies; inventories; identification; categorization; uses and functionalities (therapeutic, cultural, nutritional, symbolic); cartography; trajectory (circulation/flow) of food; actors; reterritorialization/ deterritorialization of traditional dishes; dishes, databases, women in value chains; economic stakes (trade, tourism, market potential); social/societal (integration, identities); cultural (standing, legitimization of products); policies (representativeness and national standing); innovation; classics (techniques, technologies, tools and uses, organization, functioning); disruptive (socio-cultural, technical and technological changes).

  • Heritage process in relation with biodiversity

This field of activity comprises: the methodological validation; identification and risks analysis (of modification, transformation, alienation, disappearance of traditional dishes); value and promotion of our heritage (cyber commerce, markets); technology; organization; trading; socio-culture; economics; gastronomic forces; gastronomic restaurants, commercial spaces of local products (in GSM and niches); gastronomic and touristic guides/catalogues (African dishes).

  • Approach and support tools of heritage

The third field is based on: the monitoring and control of the quality of the products; the stability of the processes and characteristics (production, transformation, environmental conditions…); standardization of the methods; respect of the design brief; harmonization of heritage procedures; training and strengthening of capacities; legal and institutional framework; situational analysis.

Part 2: Training and cooperation

This part includes two fields namely:

  • Training

The stakeholders training will be focused on: good fabrication and hygiene practices; strengthening of research capacities: recruitment of searchers and the strengthening of their capacities; development of research tools; reinforcement of administrative capacities (public and private, civil society; curricula development).

  • Cooperation

This field will enable the cooperation with international organizations (FAO, OAPI, OMPI…); South-South cooperation (Tunisia, Senegal, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, RCA, Burundi, Chad, Gabon, DRC…); North-South cooperation (France, Brazil, USA…)

Part 3: ALIPA governance

The part on ALIPA governance consists according to CERDOTOLA on creating and developing the ALIPA network; the implementation of a technical committee (by CERDOTOLA), scientific animation; support for the elaboration of projects; search for financing and implementation of specialized subcommittees.

As we can see, ALIPA has become a reality. Now Africa and African have their food heritage program. It is an unique and specific framework with an innovative and original initiative that deserves collective support and efforts. CERDOTOLA is delighted that two members of the Cameroonian government namely Madam Minister delegated to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the representative of the Minister of Arts and Culture and also the representative of UNESCO and the representatives of several ministerial departments, embassies, international organizations and non-governmental organizations have participated to the launching workshop of ALIPA in Yaoundé. The Executive Secretary pays tribute to the honourable participation of all the delegations to this workshop and especially the participation of the Tunisian delegation that was led by his Ambassador in Cameroon.

ALIPA is a new opportunity to put down the roots of emergence on the continent; CERDOTOLA put it at the service of the economic Renaissance of the entire Africa and this will ineluctably happen through the abolition of food colonization.