Photo credit: Iara Lee
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Burkinabè Bounty profiles farmers who are trying to promote a vision of agroecology and protect traditional agriculture against the encroachment of the corporate model of food production. As they preserve the natural abundance of their region, they cultivate an array of products and ingredients that serve multiple purposes. Below are some of the products they create and the natural ingredients they use.
- Dolo: Dolo is a traditional African beer that is commonly produced by women in Burkina Faso. With few other jobs available to women, dolo production is an essential way in which women gain economic independence. The beer is made from malted sorghum grains and fermented red millet.
Source: Bradt Travel Guides
- Moringa: In Burkina Faso, moringa is used to treat malnutrition. It was first introduced by pilgrims and called “moré,” or “paradise tree,” for its healing properties. According to WebMD, moringa is “native to the sub-Himalayan areas of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It is also grown in the tropics. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root are used to make medicine.” Moringa can help treat anemia, arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, stomach pain, heart problems, and high blood pressure, among other ailments.”
“Moringa is an important food source in some parts of the world. Because it can be grown cheaply and easily, and the leaves retain lots of vitamins and minerals when dried, moringa is used in India and Africa in feeding programs to fight malnutrition. The immature green pods (drumsticks) are prepared similarly to green beans, while the seeds are removed from more mature pods and cooked like peas or roasted like nuts. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach, and they are also dried and powdered for use as a condiment.
“The seed cake remaining after oil extraction is used as a fertilizer and also to purify well water and to remove salt from seawater.”
- Soumbala: Soumbala is a condiment used throughout West Africa on dishes including rice and soups. In Burkina Faso, the seeds from hibiscus plants are mashed up to create a type of soumbala called “bikalo.”
“Much like miso from East Asia, [soumbala] is made from the boiled seed, which is then left to ferment. Soumbala is sold in small balls in local markets and sometimes also in powdered form. As the locust bean tree is only rarely planted, and pods are usually harvested from wild trees, the supply is endangered. Furthermore, industrial soup stock cubes have begun to replace this traditional condiment in many homes in Burkina Faso.”
Source: Slow Food
- Néré: The néré tree, also known as the African locust bean, has both medicinal and food uses. The Burkinabè people use it to to cure hypertension and high blood pressure. Its seeds, pods, fruit pulp, and leaves are all edible. The seeds are considered particularly valuable because they can be fermented and used to make soumbala. Other uses include making baby food and feeding livestock.
“The wood is used in light constructions, poles, mortars, and many kinds of furniture and utensils. It is valuable firewood and provides pulp to make paper. The bark has many traditional uses in ethnomedicine. A root decoction is reported to treat coccidiosis in poultry. Green pods are used as fish poison to catch fish in rivers. African locust bean trees are used as ornamental. They are useful soil improvers and their leaves provide green manure.”
- Kumba: Kumba is the name of an eggplant variety grown in Burkina Faso. Kumba eggplants are smooth and round, often looking like small pumpkins.
Source: Heirloom Gardener
- Millet: Millet is a term used to describe a group of small seeded grasses that can grow in bad soil with very little water. It is common throughout West Africa, especially in Burkina Faso and Mali, and comes in red and white varieties. Millet seeds are used to make flour and alcoholic beverages, including dolo. In Burkina Faso, one of the most common types of millet is sorghum, which is used as a sweetener syrup and is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.
Source: Civil Eats
- Balanites aegyptiaca: Burkinabè women use fruit from balanites aegyptiaca trees to make balanites soap, which is thought to be good for your health. Throughout West Africa, the trees serve a wide variety of purposes.
“The fleshy pulp of both unripe and ripe fruit is edible and eaten dried or fresh. The fruit is processed into a drink and sweetmeats in Ghana, an alcoholic liquor in Nigeria, a soup ingredient in Sudan. Young leaves and tender shoots are used as a vegetable, which is boiled, pounded, then fried or fat added to prepare it. The flowers are a supplementary food in West Africa and an ingredient of ‘dawa dawa’ flavouring in Nigeria. Flowers are sucked to obtain nectar.
“Decoction of root is used to treat malaria. Roots boiled in soup are used against oedema and stomach pains. Roots are used as an emetic; bark infusion is used to treat heartburn. Wood gum mixed with maize meal porridge is used to treat chest pains. The bark is used to deworm cattle in Rajasthan.”
Source: World Agroforestry
- Baobab: The baobab tree is an icon in Africa and is accorded spiritual significance by many people. It also serves practical purposes: Its white fruit is rich in antioxidants, potassium, and phosphorus. The fruit also has six times as much vitamin C as oranges and twice as much calcium as milk. The leaves contain iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, and phosphorus, while the seeds are a great source of protein.
“In Africa, the baobab tree is steeped in mystique… Many people believe that its spirit protects the community around it, and its tangible properties certainly nourish those who live near it. Parts of the tree are used to make rope and fishing line; to feed goats, sheep and cows; and to provide shelter, food and medicine.”
Source: The New York Times
- Sorrel: Sorrel is an acidic herb commonly found in gardens in Burkina Faso. Its leaves are often added to soups, salads, and condiments to increase flavor.
- Yams: Yams, a type of sweet potato, are a staple in the typical Burkinabè diet. In addition to being eaten, they are also considered an aphrodisiac.