Notes to broadcasters
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From the beginning of time, each community has processed local food products to make them safe for the family to eat and drink. Other processed products are meant for public sale.
That is the case for cereals in Burkina Faso, a country in the heart of West Africa. In Burkina Faso, cereals, particularly red or white sorghum, are processed into dolo, or local beer. Dolo is alcoholic when fermented and non-alcoholic when not fermented.
It should be noted that, in Burkina Faso and some other Francophone countries in West Africa, this local beer is said to be made from “millet,” though it is actually made with red or white sorghum. In this script, it will be called “sorghum beer” or dolo.
This local beer used to be prepared for special occasions such as traditional celebrations, funerals, and Independence Day. But today, it is a popular commercial drink which is safe to drink and has a low alcohol content, and can be found in all urban and rural markets in the country. Making sorghum beer is an income-generating activity that keeps many women busy in the “country of honest men.” This is the meaning of “Burkina Faso” in English.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
Bernadette Zongo is a woman in her fifties. She is married to a school teacher, and they have two daughters and a son. Mrs. Zongo lives in Ziniaré, a city thirty-five kilometres from Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou.
Mrs. Zongo didn’t expect everything to come from her husband. She just wanted to do something that would earn her an income. So as soon as she got married, she decided to start making sorghum beer, the local drink that is much appreciated by both rural people and city dwellers. Mrs. Zongo is the president of a group of women who make sorghum beer in her community. Our reporter, Adama Zongo, interviewed her to find out how the beer is prepared. She first tells us the steps involved in making sorghum beer.
(In a shy voice
) The preparation of dolo
(Editor’s note: popular name for sorghum beer in Burkina Faso
) includes several steps. The first step is getting sprouted sorghum. Once I find the sprouted sorghum, I have it milled. Then, I add water to the milled sprouted sorghum and wait until the grain settles to the bottom of the jar. Next, I make some sticky water by soaking stems of okra, a vegetable with a glue-like consistency. I mix this sticky water with the settled water. Then I wait till the sprouted sorghum again settles to the bottom of the jar.
What do you do next, Mrs. Zongo, once the sprouted sorghum settles to the bottom of the jar?
I strain the sorghum from the water and boil it on the fire for about an hour and thirty minutes. Then I pour it back into the same water. That water sits for twenty four hours until it becomes acidic. Then I do a second settling to separate the draff from the acidic liquid.
Can you explain what the “draff” is?
The draff is the solid leftover by-products from making dolo
. Then I put the acidic liquid back on the fire for about two hours. I cook in big baked clay pots. I use five pots for each product – the draff and the acidic liquid. Each pot holds at least thirty litres.
After the cooking, I do a last settling, then let the liquid cool down. Then, I add yeast to it. The dolo is ready to drink the day after the second day of cooking.
Ok, now let me summarize the process one more time for our listeners. First, you mill sprouted sorghum, add water to the sorghum, and wait till it’s settled.
Then you soak okra stems in water and add that sticky water to the sorghum water, then wait for the sorghum to settle again.
Then you strain the sorghum from the water and cook it for about an hour and thirty minutes, and then pour it back into the same water.
Then you let the water sit for 24 hours until it becomes acidic, then do a second settling to separate the draff from the liquid.
Exactly. Then the last step is cooking the liquid for about two hours. After the liquid cools down, I add yeast to it. Then I wait 24 hours and the dolo
is ready to drink.
That process involves several steps. If any of our listeners want more information about this process, they can phone the station and we will give tell them all the steps.
We’ll be back after this short break to tell you more about how Mrs. Zongo creates a good living from making dolo
generates by-products that are eaten by both humans and animals. Mrs. Zongo knows how to make a profit from all those products.
) That’s right! The by-products from processing sprouted sorghum into beer are draff and yeast. Yes, yeast is also used as an input to make dolo
. But a much larger amount of yeast is generated as a by-product of the beer-making process. Draff is used as food for cattle and pigs, and as bait for fishing. Yeast adds flavour to sauces, and is used to spice flame-cooked chickens. By selling those products, I earn 500 CFA francs (about $1 US) per kilogram of yeast, and 2,500 CFA francs (about $5 US) for a cartload of draff.
But Mrs. Zongo earns much more than that. With the money she receives from selling dolo
, she bought a housing plot that she upgraded. By renting it out, she earns money at the end of every month. She is also raising livestock. Mrs. Zongo takes care of a few oxen that she bought from money she earned selling millet beer. But it’s not enough for Mrs. Zongo just to prepare dolo
and to sell it. She also distributes it in the city of Ziniaré.
I sell products to women traders. They buy one or two jars and resell them to customers. So they too get a small income from their sales. Thus, everyone gets her share, even if it’s a small one.
is exhausting work that requires some special qualities. Mrs. Zongo tells us a bit more about it.
To be a dolo
producer, you must be in a good health and have reasonable physical strength. I say this because the work isn’t finished in one day or in a half-day. If you have sprouted sorghum at hand, it will take you two days of intensive labour. Also, you must be strong to empty the clay pots, carry around buckets filled with beer from one jar to another, carry loads of firewood to the cooking pit, and other jobs.
Mrs. Zongo uses firewood to prepare dolo
. Each time she makes the beer, Mrs. Zongo puts ten pots of 30 litres each on the fire. Imagine! I believe that Mrs. Zongo wants to speak …
You might think I’m participating in the deforestation of the environment. I’m aware that I’m using a significant amount of firewood to make dolo
. Firewood is our source of energy. However, it’s becoming increasingly rare in our region. That’s why I chose to use an improved cooking pit that requires less wood and retains heat. The cooking pit is a container and the pot sits on top of it. Firewood is inserted into an opening on one side of the container. This makes the cooking pit much more efficient; it uses much less wood. I continue to use firewood while I’m waiting to have biodigesters installed. These will be more economical and don’t use wood.
The biodigester is a container in which animal excrement degrades to produce methane gas. This gas can then be used for cooking, lighting and other things. The biodigester is low-cost and easy to assemble. It also protects Mrs. Zongo’s health by preventing her from being exposed to fumes from the fire.
Listeners, today’s show is over. It introduced you to a woman who is
making a contribution to her community’s economic development by making dolo. Goodbye and see you soon on another program. If you have any questions about making dolo, please contact the station at ___.
Contributed by: Adama Gondougo Zongo, journalist at Jade Productions, Burkina Faso
Reviewed by: Barrie Axtell, independent consultant, previously with ITDG / Practical Action.
Thanks to: Alfred Kagambèga, Program manager of Radio Kakoaadb Yam Vénègré in Ziniaré
Interview with Mrs. Bernadette Zongo born Tapsoba, dolo producer in Ziniaré, Burkina Faso, December 17, 2011.