PROCELOS: Giving priority to local cereals
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CTA. 1989. PROCELOS: Giving priority to local cereals. Spore 19. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Despite good crop yields the Sahel continues to import cereals to the detriment of its own farming. The availability of international suspluses of cereal products at relatively low costs, from the North, erratic crop yields in the South, the...
Despite good crop yields the Sahel continues to import cereals to the detriment of its own farming. The availability of international suspluses of cereal products at relatively low costs, from the North, erratic crop yields in the South, the difficulties experienced by develop.ing countries in processing local cereals, and finally - the labour-intensive methods of preparation based on millet, maize or sorghum compared to the simplicity of cooking rice or making wheat bread, all contribute to this state of affairs. In 1988 the rainy season was good in the Sahel, and cereal production rose to an unprecedented level - about 9,213,000 tonnes according to CILSS (Comite Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Secheresse au Sahel), which is a rise of 3% on the previous harvest. Nevertheless, cereal imports do not seem to be decreasing 1,017,000 tonnes of rice and wheat will be brought into the Sahel this year, whether by commercial importation or food aid programmes. The question of nutritional self-sufficiency in the Sahel is thus not linked to rainfall alone: this propensity towards imported cereals is also accounted for by the higher quality of imports, their adaptation to the needs of consumers today, and to their competitive price. Eighty representatives of the Sahelian countries (from Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Mali, and Senegal) met at Thies in Senegal in October 1988 to try and resolve the problem. The meeting was on the initiative of CILSS and the Club du Sahel, with the collaboration of ENDA Third World and GRET (Groupe de Recherches et d'Etudes Techniques), and it set in motion a prograrnme promoting local cereals in the Sahel (PROCELOS). This programme is one of two reassuring moves: the first shows that, according to recent research, products from local cereals have a good reputation with Sahelian consumers. Furthermore, new dietary habits (mainly in towns) do not necessarily involve imports: new products can be supplied based on local cereals. Offering new products In the past 20 years, imports of wheat and rice have risen from about one-eighth to one quarter of the total cereal consumption in Sahelian countries. In order to reverse this trend certain measures must be taken it is possible, for example, to adapt local cereals to current preferences by appropriate marketing strategies for both <<updated>> traditional products and for new products. It is also possible to get public authorities and funding organizations to distribute recipes for new dishes using local products in canteens and local communities. Encouraging the manufacture of products made up of local cereal flour compounds (biscuits, baby cereal, bread ...) should be one of the main aspects of the programme, and as experiments carried out in Senegal have been very positive. But these measures cannot be seen as sufficient. All the Sahelian states must take part as must all those who form part of the cereals network. No lasting success will be seen until a macro-economic climate which favours the promotion of local cereals has been created. To this end the donor countries must also bring into being a sort of food aid code of conduct: for example, if surplus cereals are being brought in to help areas in short supply, European surpluses should be limited Financial measures, too, can also play an important role. Small local manufacturers and businessmen will be attracted to the use and processing of local cereals if their tax position is both clarified and eased. It is for the funding agencies to make new commitments to keep the cereals markets ir~formation systems going, and to finance campaigns to promote products made of local cereals. As for the processing equipment needed, the machinery does exist, even if much of it needs to be adapted. The enormous variety of plant used over such a wide area and the significant regional differences present enormous difficulties so the PROCELOS programme recommends that each country standardizes its equipment in order to make maintenance and the supply of spare parts easier. It is also possible and desirable to manufacture threshing and husking machinery and grain mills locally. For instance, in Senegal good results have been obtained notably with the small-scale manufacture of hammer-mills which are cheap yet effective. This is still time to correct the situation, and if the recommendations of the programme are followed, the objectives can and will be attained. The final message from the meeting which drew up the PROCELOS programme was Eat African! For more details, contact: Club du Sahel - 37 bis, boulevard Suchet - 75016 Pmic _ FRANCE
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