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Lesotho's award-winning chef talks climate change and supporting small farmers

17 March 2016

In the high rocky peaks of the African mountain kingdom Lesotho, a female chef has been creating a buzz in international culinary circles by combining ancient traditional recipes from Mosotho elders with fresh local products sourced from smallholder farmers around the remote town of Thaba Tseka.

Ska Mirriam Moteane, chef, cookbook author and entrepreneur came to fame after winning the 2013 "Best African Cookbook in the World" award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris, France.

The cookbook documents a number of traditional Lesotho recipes – using staple ingredients such as maize and corn –which had never before been available in print.

Together with three other friends, she used her newfound fame to launch Flava of Africa, a charity that organises food events that fundraise money for school agricultural programs, while promoting healthy eating and the use of local ingredients.

Moteane, who studied at the Institute of Culinary Arts in South Africa, and has catered for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, was recently in Rome to speak at a high-level debate on agriculture, nutrition and climate change during the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

Moteane has been working with IFAD to develop one of its Recipes for Change (Mutton Stew or Sechu Sa Nku).

Recipes for Change highlights climate impacts on traditional ingredients while promoting adaptation solutions for smallholder farmers.

Preserving local food traditions and working with smallholder farmers is critical, says Chef Ska Moteane, speaking at a high-level debate in Rome on agriculture, nutrition and climate change during the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

According to a report published by Lancet, over three million children die each year as a result of undernutrition. A further 165 million suffer stunted growth. At the same time, the effects of climate change are impeding the growth of vital staple crops across the globe, including in Lesotho.

As part of its Recipes for Change campaign, IFAD has recently launched a petition asking delegates at the UN Climate Summit in Paris in December to invest in small farmers in the developing world today.

The side event was convened by IFAD and CGIAR, in partnership with the EAT initiative, CIRAD and the Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN).

Moteane joined Hervé Saint-Macary, Deputy Director of Persyst (Performance of Production and Transformation Systems ) at CIRAD, Bertrand Reysset, IFAD's Adaptation Specialist, and Walter Willet, Professor of Nutrition at Harvard, to discuss how agricultural production, climate change, nutrition and food security intersect.

IFAD caught up with Moteane after the event to discuss climate change, cooking local and why she is so passionate about supporting smallholder farmers.

Watch it now.