The festival is led by the First Lady, Dr Lalla Malika Issofou, a Smart Food Ambassador, and offered a framework for discussions around strengthening value chains of millets in Niger. Smart Food Master Classes were also organized for the Presidency and hotel chefs as well as students.
FESTIMIL 2020 consisted of meetings, demonstrations, culinary workshops, contests and panel discussions led by eminent researchers and millet value chain professionals from Niger and other Sahelian countries. Inaugurating the event, HE Mr Albadé Abouba, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, said, “FESTIMIL aims to promote healthy and balanced nutrition for families, especially in rural areas, in order to better fight against malnutrition. It is about promoting rainfed and irrigated production of millets, various processed millet-based products, and the nutritional values of millet. Let us consume what our farmers are producing; let us consume Nigerien products.”
FESTIMIL has been adopted and institutionalized by the government of Niger, as an extension of its ‘Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens’ 3N campaign to promote local products. Dr Issoufou, who is also President of the Tattali Iyali (‘Family wellbeing’ in the local language) Foundation, said, “FESTIMIL has helped us discover that consumption of millets that are rich in iron and zinc can contribute a lot towards improving the nutritional state of target populations and help them fulfill their physical and cognitive potential. Through FESTIMIL, many Nigeriens have understood that millet is a Smart Food. It is tolerant to the harsh climatic conditions of our Sahelian countries and it benefits both producers and consumers as it is a very nourishing food that is good for health.”