PROCELOS eat local produce!
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Ouedraogo, Jean-Pierre. 1991. PROCELOS eat local produce!. Spore 36. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Jean-Pierre Ouedraogo is currently coordinating the PROCELOS programme at CILSS. For ten years previously he was with the National Cereals Office in Burkina Faso as executive manager implementing the national policy of making local cereals more...
Jean-Pierre Ouedraogo is currently coordinating the PROCELOS programme at CILSS. For ten years previously he was with the National Cereals Office in Burkina Faso as executive manager implementing the national policy of making local cereals more marketable. By improving processing and cooking methods of local cereals their consumption could be increased, and the Sahelian states could make significant savings in foreign exchange. Thus Sahelian countries should not have to import wheat and rice. A few years ago the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) noted that: many countries had recorded a surplus in agricultural products and yet during the same period rice imports were rising rapidly and continuously. Wheat and rice, which are usually imported, now account for a quarter of cereal consumption in Sahelian countries, double that of 20 years ago. Our national budgets are constantly shrinking and it is hard to see how these states in the years 2010-2015 will be able to sustain such a drain of convertible currency. Experts sought to discover whether these imports arose because the countries did not have locally-grown cereals available for consumption, or whether they were the result of consumer choice. The answer is a complex one, but one of the principal factors has been the enormous rise in population (averaging 3% per year). City life style demands quick and easy food, and rice and bread provide that. CILSS, one of whose aims is to ensure adequate and lasting food supplies for the Sahel, decided to investigate more fully the consumption of cereals in the region. In collaboration with the Club du Sahel (OCDE) it initiated the PROCELOS (Promotion des Cereales Locales au Sahel) programme with the dual objective of identifying the constraining factors on the consumption of locally-grown cereals and halting the decline of local cereal based products on the urban marketplace. To begin with the emphasis was on discovering, by means of consumer research, exactly what people ate and how they prepared it, and the time of day when this was done. This indicated to the PROCELOS researchers that the recent success of rice had three causes: ease of preparation, stability of price, availability throughout the year. The price of local cereal, on the other hand, can double within months and the cereals are available only sporadically in local markets. Furthermore, preparing to or millet couscous takes many hours. For some years now there have been experiments in adapting local cereals to the changing dietary habits of the population, but results are all too often disappointing. Sometimes these attempts just mean substituting millet or sorghum for wheat in making bread or noodles. The results not only look less appetizing but comes a poor second to rival imported products. The immediate reaction was that this would mean the end of local cereals. However, this did not happen. PROCELOS researchers found that people still liked traditional dishes and had not given up eating them. Millet, sorghum, fonio and niebe still have a place in the households and markets of the Sahel and will remain there. On the other hand, consumers also like to vary their diet and are no longer content with exactly the same fare as that of their parents which was monotonous and hard to prepare. Advertising and publicity are reeducating their tastes and they now demand products which do not require arduous and lengthy preparation. This does not mean they will refuse local cereals, but their lifestyle and budget dictate that these should be quick and easy to prepare. PROCELOS has organized international meetings between manufacturers so that ideas and information can be exchanged freely and common difficulties shared. This exchange between those concerned in cereal production in the different countries is one of PROCELOS's principal strategies. The manufacturers and small-scale processors have the enthusiasm and often the technology with which to produce high quality foodstuffs, and the project looks to them, to the private rather than the public sector, for cooperation and for financial investment in viable projects. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CTA.
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