In Burkina Faso, Mani Tese has been accompanying the 238 members of the Loumbila NANGLOBZANGA Producers’ Union for many years now, on a path of awareness and change towards the agroecological transition. In this process, the training and transformation center plays a key role; it was built over the years by the Union with our support, and it has become the hub of many activities of our projects.
During the second week of June, as part of the “TOMATO REVOLUTION” and “DOLCI PRODUZIONI” projects, respectively financed by the Emilia-Romagna Region and the Lecco Committee for Peace and Cooperation among Peoples, two important trainings were held. Trainings are the key to change, because they give participants the opportunity to learn new techniques and acquire new skills.
Firstly, together with the NANGLOBZANGA Union, we have identified the criteria of selection of the participants, namely: specific interest in the proposed transformation activities, previous experience in training activities, homogeneity and fairness of distribution of participants among the various villages represented, and account of gender to encourage the participation of women.
The first training was dedicated to the tomato transformation process and involved 30 women, while the second, focused on making jams, involved 10 women.
The trainings are always led by local experts accompanied by the animators of Mani Tese and follow a consolidated model that allows participants to acquire important basic general information, such as hygiene during the manufacturing process, as well as the ingredients to be used, but above all which allows the transformation processes to be put into practical practice.
The participants experimented with the different varieties of tomatoes and fruit that can be used; the different maturity stages were then discussed and the most suitable ones for each final preparation were identified, and finally information about additional ingredients that can be integrated was shared. The Stevia rebaudiana, for example, can be used as a substitute for sugar in the preparation of jams, with over 200 plants already being ready to be planted in the Union’s garden for experimentation. This introductory part of the training was essential to facilitate understanding of the hygiene rules to be adopted during preparation and packaging in order to ensure a healthy and safe product.
But the practical stage remains the vital heart of the trainings. The women, accompanied by the expert trainer and our team, carried out the entire process of transforming fruit into jam and tomato into puree, putting into practice all the steps learned and using all the necessary materials. The Loumbila center has thus become a real transformation laboratory where women are the protagonists, very busy experimenting, understanding the various steps, carrying out conditioning tests of the final products and evaluating the quality of the products obtained. Last but not least, these trainings were an opportunity to talk about how to market this type of products, their positioning and their potential.
After a total of 6 days of intense training, all the participants had a big smile on their face, satisfied with having acquired new skills, and finally felt ready to start the production of a new line of products from agroecological agriculture with the brand of the NANGLOBZANGA Union.
Together, we have taken another important step to make the producers of the NANGLOBZANGA Union more autonomous and to make these projects sustainable!
Here are some photos of the trainings: