Senegalese ‘miracle grain’ could see Sahel prosper: TED
Senegalese ‘miracle grain’ could see Sahel prosper: TED.
Pierre Thiam, one of Africa’s best-known chefs, told the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania on Monday night of his dream to see "fonio" turn around the fortunes of the arid Sahel region which stretches just south of the Sahara The grain is a nutty-tasting cross between couscous and quinoa which has been cultivated on the continent for some 5,000 years.
He discovered it was once so popular it was found in Egyptian tombs, accompanying people to the afterlife, and that Mali’s ethnic Dogon people believe the entire universe sprung from a grain of fonio.
Now however, it is only produced in the western part of the Sahel in places like Kedougou, one of the poorest regions of Senegal.
"Desertification and lack of job prospects means much of the youth have left, they choose the deadly path of migration in search of better opportunities," said Thiam "This is the reality of Kedougou and much of the Sahel today.
It thrives where nothing else will grow."
– Tiny grain, big answers – And he rapped the "colonial mentality" that had made the Senegalese believe their own products were inferior — enjoying rice imported from China and baguettes and croissants from France while believing their home-grown grain was for "country people".
"Africa has a chance to lead the world by creating a new path to modernity.
The biggest challenges facing the world over the next 20 years are already playing out in Africa," said conference curator Emeka Okafor.
These range from food security to creating millions of jobs in an increasingly automated world, redesigning cities, water scarcity and the fight against climate change.