Bread – a (not so) simple tale

It happens sometimes that a friend asks me: is there anything you miss about Holland? And as a matter of fact, there is: brown bread and decent cheese. You can get cheese at fiendishly inflated prices in an upmarket shopping space like the unspeakably dreadful Dakar City; full of folks full of themselves. It is, mercifully, located many miles from were I live.

But OK – cheese is sort of doable. It’s the bread that’s the real story here.

You see, this used to be a French colony. Food-wise, this is not a catastrophe, you add French cuisine to the magnificent Senegalese national thieboudiën (rice, fish, spice, vegetables), and all is well.

Except for breakfast.

Alright, we agree on the coffee. But that is where me and the French part company. Croissants, confiture, you must be joking. And the worst of all: baguettes. Yes, I like them, freshly baked and crisp.

But not everyday.

And this is where I accidentally made a discovery. I went to a small bakery down the road and pointed at something that did not look like a baguette. The young man at the counter asked : ‘But…do you know what that is? It’s mburu duggub. Millet bread.’ ‘It’s not baguette,’ I replied. ‘I want to try this.’

I took it home…

From a small corner in my modest kitchen

From a small corner in my modest kitchen

…and it turned out to taste a million times better than those wretched…anyway: I don’t want to alienate my French friends too much.

Now, millet is grown in Senegal. Wheat is imported, to the tune of millions of euros, every year. My simple economic mind thinks that here is a golden opportunity to kill three, nope, four birds with one stone.

1. Buy duggub, save a Senegalese farmer who would otherwise close business and come to town.

2. Save huge amounts of money on wheat imports.

3. Create more rural employment and build a healthy section of your very own economy.

4. Improve the quality of breakfast.

Oh and, er, educate the mills that produce flour. I remember a debate in the press here, last year, about this very issue and why the moulins were refusing to process local produce. Technically difficult, they claimed. Even when the bakers, as we speak, are threatening to go on strike because the price of flour has gone up – again.

Technical difficulties? Balls, I’d say. In the words of a famous TV series character: make it so. But only when the consumer wants it. And that’s another bottleneck: the obsession with price. Understandable but in this case, quite wrong. What you spend on better bread, you’ll probably save on the doctor.

***

Same story about shoes. Why buy cheap Chinese stuff when a village called Ngaye, in your very own backyard produces some of the finest shoes anywhere on the planet? Yes, they are more expensive but they last five years instead of three weeks. And why not restore the cloth manufacturing industry, as this entrepreneur wants to do, and serve the market with quality material – made here?

The possibilities are endless. The riddle is why it’s not happening. Consumer habits? Yes. Entrenched interests, especially among traders and importers? Certainly. Outdated (French!) legal frameworks that put massive obstructions in place for anyone who wants to start a business? Part of the picture too. There’s probably more.

A lot of big business started in the proverbial garage. Why not a bakery? The address: La Villageoise, Autoroute de l’Aéroport, Yoff Mbenguene, Dakar. Spread the word.

 

Tags: , ,

3 Responses to “Bread – a (not so) simple tale”

  1. hans scholte Says:

    Dit artikel was weer zeer de moeite waard. Ik was geneigd om wat lekker brood (van vlieland) op te sturen, maar dat is gelukkig niet nodig! Eet smakelijk!!!

  2. Helena Says:

    Goed artikel! Ga je blog ook lezen. Senegalese Farmers verenigd U! Eigenlijk gaat dit ook over duurzaamheid. X we spreken.

  3. Hair extensions Says:

    Hair extensions

    Bread – a (not so) simple tale | Bram Posthumus – Yoff Tales

Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: