Côte d’Ivoire seeks intellectual property protection for, Attiéké
Ivorian government wants protection for cassava-based Attiéké, similar to Japanese Kobe beef, and French Champagne ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (AFKI) — The government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast in West Africa
Ivorian government wants protection for cassava-based Attiéké, similar to Japanese Kobe beef, and French Champagne
ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (AFKI) — The government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast in West Africa wants the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization to protect attiéké, (pronounced atchekay) — a traditional couscous-like dish made from fermented ground cassava roots that Ivorians eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Japan did it with Kobe beef; Italy with Parma ham, and France with Champagne. So Ivory Coast’s desire to protect the status of one of its most popular foods isn’t far fetched.
Originating centuries ago in the coastal areas of Ivory Coast, attiéké has traveled far beyond the country’s borders to become a well-loved food in West and Central Africa and the diaspora.
Attiéké looks like couscous. Prepared right, it takes a couple of days to make from scratch. Making it involves peeling and grating cassava to make a paste that is mixed with a small portion of already fermented paste. This is left to sit for a day or two and ferment. In the process, the tuber’s natural acidity dissipates. The paste is then dried in the sun and steamed for a few minutes before serving.
There’s a severe shortage of attiéké in Ivory Coast’s markets this year. President Alassane Ouattara blames “cartels” and asked the police to investigate and dismantle them, according to government spokesman Bruno Kone.
Many people outside Ivory Coast in Africa and even Southeast Asia claim to be making and selling attiéké. They use the Ivorian name to brand and sell a uniquely Ivorian product but they are using only a part of the process, said Kone.
“Because of its renown, this food is increasingly being produced outside the country and marketed using the same name by countries which only partly follow the (correct) production process,” Kone said.
Attiéké is popular in neighboring countries. Several tons are exported every month to Burkina Faso, Mali, France, and the U.S., according to Agence France.
It is cooked several different ways. The most popular are — attiéké poisson grilled fried fish prepared with sliced tomato, onion and green pepper; attieke sauce tomate — fresh or dried fish cooked in tomato sauce; and attiéké huile rouge — couscous mixed with palm oil, turning it from an almond color to orange, accompanied with hot pepper soup. It is also eaten with smoked fish or grilled chicken.
Traditionally, attiéké is made by women in villages and on the outskirts of Ivorian cities, especially in Southern and Central Ivory Coast.
The Ivory Coast Ministry of Industry has been instructed to “take the necessary measures to ensure legal international protection of the appellation ‘attiéké’ as well as the production method of this foodstuff,” Kone said. The goal is to establish an “international products and services marque.”
In 2016 so far, five attiéké factories have sprung up around the Ivory Coast capital, Kone noted.
Legal protection will take into account both the name of the product and the manufacturing process, according to FinancialAfrik. It should also speed up the industrialization process of production and create a true value chain around cassava.
But the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization does not have a compliance policing unit so it is not clear how it would be enforced on the continent, let alone elsewhere, Kone said.