Each year, the EU exports many tonnes of discounted agricultural products to countries in Africa. While it seems to make sense at first, it leaves African producers unable to compete. Their locally grown food is more expensive than products from the EU.
The EU exports high volumes of agricultural products to African countries. These are mainly foodstuffs such as flour, powdered milk or even chicken. This gives the local people access to a wide range of inexpensive goods.
While it seems to make sense at first, it leaves African producers unable to compete. Their locally grown food is more expensive than products from the EU. This is because the imports come from subsidised, intensive and highly industrialised agriculture. Moreover, there are reduced tariffs on these imports.
On the other hand, agriculture in West Africa is not subsidised at all and is based on small-scale farming structures, with each producer farming extensively on a few hectares of land. And anyone able to produce enough to even consider exporting is deterred by the high tariffs imposed by the EU on imports – up to 25 per cent for grain.
Fonio is an ancient staple food. In botanical terms, fonio is a type of finger millet. The grains of the annual plant are suitable for making couscous and porridge. Fonio can also be ground into flour for use in a variety of baked goods. We'll be publishing recipes regularly throughout our campaign. By the end, you'll be fonio experts!
Working with our partner in Togo, we agreed on three different grades for the first batch of exports. We'll deliver all three types in one package:
- Blanchi: pale, twice-hulled grains. For cooking and baking.
- Décortiqué: hulled once, similar to whole grain rice.
- Précuit: simply hulled and pre-cooked fonio grains. Similar to parboiled rice.
We source the fonio from the Togolese processing company Bodhi Foods in the city of Niamtougou in eastern Togo. The company works with 814 farming families from 28 cooperatives in 25 villages in the Doufelgou region. Each of the families cultivates an average of 0.8 hectares of land, on which they grow organic fonio.
After harvesting, the fonio is delivered to Bodhi Foods, where the company's employees hull and pack it. Bodhi Foods employs 12 people year-round and another 50 during the harvest season.
Trade is the key to improving people's lives in countries like Togo. If farming families didn't export goods, they would only be able to sell their products locally. Since there is too much competition with cheap imports from the EU, they would end up with no income at all and the local grain varieties would disappear over time.
In addition, fonio is a crop that is resistant to hazards such as drought, isn't fussy about soil and grows very quickly – it takes only about 70 days from sowing to harvest. Its robust nature also makes fonio a good candidate for crops that provide income to farming families in times of climate change.
So let's work together to raise awareness of the negative impact of export subsidies and prevent valuable crops like fonio from being forgotten. Order now!