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Script 81.9

Notes to broadcasters

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The presence of fruit and vegetables in our daily diet is of vital importance. Fruits and vegetables contain many kinds of vitamins, minerals, energy sources, antioxidants and fibre. Therefore, we cannot forego them if we want to maintain a balanced diet and stay healthy. Even so, this advice is not always followed. Many local fruits are not available year-round because they are harvested at the beginning or the end of the rainy season. We can avoid this dietary imbalance in two ways: firstly, by using traditional techniques of preserving these local foods, which can then be used in the dry season. Leaves that have been preserved can last for one year while fruits can last up to two years. Well-preserved fruits and vegetables have the same nutritional content as fresh fruits and vegetables. And secondly, by growing a wider range of species that produce out of season.

Different regions and different countries may have different traditional or modern preservation techniques, and may preserve different foods. Find out about what kinds of foods and what kinds of preservation techniques are used in your listening area.

Good health and good nutrition are vitally important. Who knows? By broadcasting effective techniques for preserving vitamin- and mineral-rich foods, you may help save lives.

Script

HOST:
Today’s program explains how to use traditional methods to preserve certain local fruits and vegetables. Tamarind and roselle, called bissap in Senegal, will be the focus of our program. We will start with tamarind. Tamarind is a fruit that contains a brown, sugary pulp that is sticky and a bit sour to the taste. It is called “pouga” in the Moba language. Tamarind is also a medicinal tree whose fruits are used to treat ailments such as abscesses on women’s breasts, vomiting, and cuts. It can also be used for de-worming the intestines, intestinal cleansing and aiding in digestion.

To find out more, let’s listen to old Tani, a seller of dried tamarind fruit, as she talks to one of her clients at a small local market in the north of Togo. Tani will start by telling us about traditional methods for preserving tamarind.

Fade in sounds of market – voices, laughter, sounds of chickens and other domestic animals. Fade under conversation and hold at low level throughout.

TANI:
Some good tamarind, my daughter?

CLIENT:
Good morning, Mama Tani.

TANI:
Good morning, my daughter.

CLIENT:
These “pougas” (broadcasters should use the local term) are beautiful! (Disappointed) Is this all that’s left?

TANI:
This is it. You’ve arrived a bit late today…

CLIENT:
It’s true. On my way here I stopped to say hello to a friend. But you know, the pougas today are more beautiful than usual.

TANI:
(in a smiling voice)… My dear, I never sell bad tamarind. What you see here was preserved nearly one and a half years ago.

CLIENT:
(Surprised) Really!?

TANI:
(Bursting out laughing) Don’t be surprised, they are well preserved – that’s all.

CLIENT:
Are you joking?

TANI:
(in a more serious tone) No! My dear, it’s an old tradition in our family. My grandmother, my mother and I pick tamarind each season.

CLIENT:
So you learned how to do this from your grandmother and your mother?

TANI:
That’s correct.

CLIENT:
Interesting! (Pause) Mama Tani, our paths have not been similar. My mother died when I was 10. My father charged me with looking after the sheep. Each morning, I would take the sheep out to graze and I would return late at night. My father’s second wife raised me. At 16, my father married me off. I know hardly anything about how to preserve fruits.

TANI:
(in a compassionate voice) Would you like to learn how to preserve tamarind and other fruits and vegetables?

CLIENT:
Of course I would!

TANI:
It’s not difficult; I can show you. The most important thing is to have a good memory.

CLIENT:
I’m listening.

TANI:
In the first place, you need to pick a lot of ripe tamarind fruit, and remove their shells.

ClIENT:
If there is a lot of fruit, how can I remove the shells quickly and well?

TANI:
That’s a good question. First, we choose a clean surface; then we spread out all the fruits on the surface. Next, we use a small stick or a stone to lightly break the fruits one by one. We must be careful not to crush them if we want to obtain beautiful pougas like these you see here.

ClIENT:
What do we do after we break the fruit?

TANI:
We winnow the tamarind to separate the shells and the waste products. Then, we dry the fruit for two to three days. After it’s dry, we put the fruit in a large basin with a bit of water, then shake the contents, because the fruits are sticky, to make it easier to shape them into balls. If we add too much water, the operation is inefficient.

ClIENT:
Why should we preserve only well-ripened fruit? And why do we need to shape them into balls?

TANI:
To answer your first question, we need to pick tamarind that is well-ripened for two reasons: first of all, tamarind shells contain a brown pulp that is sugary, sticky and sour to the taste when it is ripe, but when it isn’t ripe it is inferior in quality. The second reason is that weevils easily attack tamarind that is unripe. The response to your second question is simple. The tamarind fruits are shaped into balls so that they look beautiful, and so we can charge different prices, depending on whether the ball is big or small.

Short musical break

ClIENT:
So, now we’ve gently broken open the fruit, separated the fruit from the waste products, dried and washed them, and shaken them to make it easier to shape them into balls. Is that all?

TANI:
No! By the way, my dear, you can make them into any shape you want, not just balls. (Pause) The next step is drying the balls to prevent mould. This requires a lot of attention! The tamarind balls need air and sun. If you keep them in a closed container, they will remain sticky and spoil quickly. That is why we have to preserve them somewhere that is well aerated. Tamarind can last up to two years without spoiling if the preservation is done well. To do it, we advise to keep them on shelves made of wooden boards or clay, as farmers do it in the countryside, or even in containers which are not airtight.

ClIENT:
Thank you Mama Tani. I’ve got one last question – can I trouble you to answer it?

TANI:
No problem. Please go ahead and ask.

ClIENT:
Is tamarind used for medicinal benefits?

TANI:
Absolutely! Its pulp is used in refreshing and acidic drinks rich in vitamin C. It is a good fortifier. In short, it is a fruit used for many purposes. The tamarind tree should be protected because of its many benefits.

CLIENT:
Thank you, Mama Tani.

TANI:
Not at all, my dear.

Musical break

TANI:
Now, I will close the page on tamarind and talk about roselle, or Guinea sorrel, also known as “gouante” in Moba. Roselle is a vegetable harvested for its leaves and its seeds. Its juice and its leaves are nourishing and very appreciated. It’s the most popular household vegetable in African households. To conserve the leaves, we harvest them while young and dry them. The calyxes are harvested when they are very ripe. The calyxes and the seeds are separated and dried separately. After they dry, they are stored separately in containers that are well-sealed. There is a good market for the seeds since they help to produce traditional mustard. The leaves are sold and used in households during the dry season. The calyxes, called “gonyonna” in Moba, are easily sold and are good sources of income for many households, particularly the roselle with the red calix that is used to prepare very refreshing sugary and acidic drinks.

TANI:
One thing to add, my dear: Drying fruits and vegetables is the principal way to preserve fruits and vegetables in Africa, with some small exceptions such as the tamarind. That’s the end, my dear. Good bye and take care.

CLIENT:
Thanks Mama Tani, goodbye until next time.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Fati Labdiedo, director, Radio Mecap, Dapaong, Togo.
Reviewed by: Dr Tony Simons, Tom Vandenbosch and George Obanyi (ICRAF); and Patrick Maundu, Bioversity International.

Information Sources

Arbres, arbustes et lianes des zones seches d’Afrique de l’Ouest, 2nd edition, 2002, by Michel Arbonnier. Paris, Centre de cooperation internationale en recherche agronomique pour le developpement (CIRAD), 42, rue Scheffer, 75116 Paris, Fran. Phone: 33 (0)1 53 70 20 00. Fax: 33 (0)1 47 55 15 30.

Resource person: Mama Tani, fruit and vegetable vendor in a small market in the north of Togo called Korbongou.