Slow Food's Carlo Petrini, FAO Special Ambassador Zero Hunger for Europe visits Kenya
FAO Special Ambassador Zero Hunger Europe , Carlo Petrini, met with Gabriel Rugalema, FAO Representative in Kenya, as part of his visit to the country (1-5 August 2016). He called on joining forces towards the provision of good, clean and fair food, while growing Kenya’s Ark of Taste Project .
The Slow Food international president and founder is in Kenya to firm up collaborations with local organizations and partners towards the movement’s first congress in the African region in 2017, but this is also the first visit in his capacity as the FAO Zero Hunger ambassador since appointment earlier this year. He urged FAO to identify unique and unrecognized food products that deserve to be included in the international catalogue of endangered heritage foods which is maintained by the global Slow Food movement.
“Behind each product we have a community. We have the possibility to work together with FAO to preserve products at the risk of extinction. Apart from nutritional value, these products contribute towards both our patrimonial and cultural heritage”, he said.
In view of the next Slow Food International Congress to be held in Nakuru, Kenya, in June 2017, FAO Representative in Kenya, Mr. Gabriel Rugalema, promised that his team would support the event in expertise as well as in various areas discussed during the meeting.
“Slow Food and FAO are already doing a good job, but there are more opportunities as the needs are immense. It’s a great prospect to explore further how our collaboration and different strategies can meet these needs,” said Mr. Rugalema.
During the meeting, various areas of possible collaboration such as biodiversity and the food composition table in Kenya, inclusion of the wealth of pastoral communities, food safety strategies, policies towards food security – all areas that FAO is currently involved in were discussed.
Slow Food Movement in Kenya
The slow food movement in Kenya started in 2004, and currently has thirty local chapters of the Terra Madre (Indigenous Peoples) network. The three main activities relevant to Mr. Petrini’s visit include the expansion of the Ark of Taste project, the Terra Madre Indigenous people’s network and the 10, 000 “clean and fair food gardens in African schools and communities” with three hundred and fifty gardens in Kenya.
During the current visit, the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance in Kenya will be launched. The alliance brings together a network of chefs who through an agreement commit to support small producers by using their products in their kitchens. There are currently fifty Kenyan products in the Ark of Taste – all with strong cultural links such as the River Nzoia Reed salt , the Ogiek honey grown by a local forest community, the Molo sheep and the Pokot Ash yoghurt . There is a potential for many more in the one-hundred and seventy countries that the movement has reached. Italy where the foundation begun now has seven hundred products nominated and identified in the Ark of Taste. The visit gives an opportunity to explore on Africa’s potential for this prestigious mark.
By coming together, both organizations strongly benefit from each other’s well established organizational reputations that contribute towards value addition and better niche markets, knowledge, preservation of well identified and beneficial traditional food practices and the overall goal to end hunger.
Towards Zero Hunger
In his role as a Special Ambassador Zero Hunger, Petrini is tasked to help ensure a better understanding of FAO's vision of a world free of hunger and malnutrition, in which food and agriculture contribute towards improving livelihoods, particularly those of poor people.
While Petrini was appointed in May 2016 , the collaboration between FAO and Slow Food goes back to 2013. Through an agreement, FAO and Slow Food have been working together to promote inclusive food and agriculture systems and in joint advocacy campaigns and global initiatives including the 2016 International Year of Pulses and the 2014 International Year of Family Farming .