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Monday, October 16, 2017

Everyday Exotic Spices: Zanzibar Spices & Heritage Centre: The Continuing Story

A few years back, stumbled across an article detailing a delightful business success story about the efforts of Mzee Foum Garu aka Foum Ali Garu, a spice farmer in Zanzibar. 

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar and Pemba, its sister island, have a reputation for their spices. Spice farm tours are conducted for travelers to Tanzania. Tourists learn the origins and history of the spices produced in Zanzibar, their culinary and medicinal properties, and the traditional local uses. They also get to sample some delicious local dishes and a tasty “Tea Masala”. Natives and foreign students are invited to enroll at the Kizimbani Agricultural Training Institute of Zanzibar to learn even more via an internship or a volunteer project.  Mr. Garu played an integral role in promoting and developing these tours and training courses.

Image credit: Spice farm, Zanzibar by Mark, on Flickr

The organization founded by Mr. Garu was mentioned in the 2013 write-up as “Zanzibar Organic Spice Products”. It is currently operating under the name “Zanzibar Organic Spice Growers (ZOSG)”, and also recognized by the name “Zanzibar Spices & Heritage Centre”. Mzee Foum Garu combined his experience, knowledge and skills for farming spices with several other small-scale farmers and they grow a wide range of cash crops. In addition to spices (cardamom, vanilla, betel nut, turmeric, cinnamon, curry leaves and nutmeg), they cultivate many tropical fruits and vegetables (such as hairy litchi, durian and jack fruit), and plants and trees (such as moringa, the henna plant, and the lipstick tree). There is a growing European market for these food products cultivated by the zanzibari farmers.

Image credit: Zanzibar Spices & Heritage Centre

The article that inspired this post was dated 2013, however, Foum Ali Garu began his work in the 90s. It's great to read that Garu's success has continued and that other local farmers are also benefitting from the agricultural initiatives he started and the entire region is profiting.

Interesting Food History: The first spices plantations were established by the Oman Sultan Sayid Sa’id in the 19th century.  ~  "Seyyid Said." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.                     

Ingredients in this spice mound: 
Coriander, mustard, fennel, turmeric, cumin, sweet paprika, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cloves and white pepper.

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