In Nariño, and particularly in the areas of Encano and Laguna de La Cocha, capio maize has always been a product strongly linked to local culture and local food heritage. It is an extremely versatile cereal that doesn’t take long to ripen, is sown near dwellings and grows well in fertile soils at moderate altitude, as it is resistant to low temperatures. There are 12 varieties of maize in the region. Some of these maize varieties have a long growth cycle, of between eight and ten months, such as guamisar, capio blanco and de año, while others have a cycle that lasts from five to six months, such as maicena blanco, and other sweet maize varieties such as chulpe de año. Floury maize varieties that are suited to a cold climate are very common in Nariño. There are several variants of capio maize: capio rojo, capio leche, capio misado, capio dienton, capio amarillo e negro, capio pálido, and capio brillante.
Capio maize is one of the most common maize varieties in the region and is similar to old maize varieties in terms of its height and the plant’s robustness and hardiness. Its large grains are white, yellow or a mix, all with a floury texture. Its complete growth cycle ranges from eight to ten months. The leche and blanco varieties of capio are highly prized for their high yield and distinctive flavor. They are used in many traditional recipes and are sold on the cob. In terms of culinary use, the maize is used in traditional recipes such as soups, pastries, desserts and drinks.
In Nariño, indigenous populations such as the Pastos, Quillacingas and Emberás have been involved in traditional farming activities, include growing maize, for centuries, making it possible to conserve seeds up to now. Nowadays, the communities in the areas of Encano and Laguna de La Cocha are keeping alive this tradition of collecting capio blanco maize seeds to ensure that the crop, which is in gradual decline and even disappearing in some areas, can continue to be grown. Capio blanco maize is much less commonly found on sale in local markets, where it is only found occasionally, and it is feared that competition from intensive farming is leading to the total disappearance of this traditional cereal, and so of this profound link with the local community.Back to the archive >