Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life in the Village of Guiledje, Guinea Bissau, Africa

Life in Guiledje

The economy in Guinea Bissau depends mainly on agriculture.  In Guiledje's agriculture consists of peanuts, rice and African palm trees.  From the palm trees an oil called cheven is extracted.  The oil is used for cooking (palm oil contains more saturated fats than oils made from canola, corn, linseed, soybeans, safflower, and sunflowers, it can withstand extreme deep-frying heat and resists oxidation).  

The oil palm originated in West Africa but has since been planted successfully in tropical regions within 20 degrees of the equator. There is evidence of palm oil use in Ancient Egypt. 
The fruit is harvested, boiled and left for the water portion to evaporate.What is left is pressed to collect the reddish, orange colored oil.
Palm Oil has a superior health profile (it lacks trans-fats, non-genetically modified, potential to lower cholesterol, and has an abundance of anti-oxidants).

Palm oil production has been documented as a cause of substantial and often irreversible damage to the natural environment. Its impacts include: deforestation. This is evident in Guinea Bissau.

neck burned during deforestation
If you'd like to take a natural African approach to keeping your skin clean and healthy you should check out black soap (If you have not already). The coconuts from the trees are used to make black soap (which they sell). The African black soap is soft, organically shaped, delicately textured and exudes a natural, earthy smell. It's ideal for cleaning your hands, face and body, and it can even be lathered up and used as a shampoo. I recently purchased a tub of it at a local African store in my area.
making soap

They also plant Mandioca, Manihot utilissima, otherwise known as Manioc, Mandioca, or Yuca, or Cassava, as it is commonly called, is a starchy tuberous root.  The plant was of chief economic importance to the tribes of tropical South America east of the Andes, and its cultivation spread.

Mandioca is a shrubby plant, with brittle stems, 6 feet to 8 feet high, large palmate leaves and green flowers. In the ordinary variety the tubers weigh up to 30 lbs and the juice, due to the presence of hydrocyanic acid, is poisonous. It comes in a sweet and bitter version and a smaller non poisonous variety. An intoxicating drink can also be prepared from the Mandioca and sweet Cassava is nourishing, light and agreeable as a food for invalids, and infants during weaning.

 cashew orchard

Last but not least, we cannot not forget the cashew, which is the main stay, very important crop and national export of the country. Cashew nuts are sold to business men from Mauritania and India who come to Guinea Bissau to buy them for shipment back to their own countries. At the present time things are bad with  a possible war looming on the horizon. With the political climate such as it is, many business men are not making the trip to Guinea Bissau to buy the nuts. The people are not collecting them as fast and are not selling them as quickly. If they do not sell the nuts, it will mean disaster for the nation. This may be the only cash flow many will have all year. 

Come back tomorrow for information on our school project plan for Guiledje

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