Pesqoruntu Corn

Ark of taste
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In the entire valley of Vilnacota, in the Cusco region, corn is a staple food, especially in the district of Andahuaylillas, and particularly in the rural community of Yutto. The corn that is grown here is largely appreciated and is called pesqoruntu, meaning ""bird egg"". It grows between 3260 and 4180 meters above sea level and its cobs are small and globular: they look like a 10 cm cylindrical cone. The grains are rather large and elongated, their color ranges from purple to gray or white and are placed in regular rows.
Pesqoruntu is grown within a plot that hosts different cultures: this type of intercropping dates back to Incas times and now follows the principles of agroecology. The borders of the field are grown with tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis), which works as a barrier against parasites. Several corn cultivars, alternated with beans, peas and quinoa follow.
In this system, pesqorunto is the first variety that ripens and is available to the families. The texture and taste of the roasted grains are particularly appreciated by farmers and they are often eaten as a substitute for bread.

The Yutto community, just as many farming communities in the Andes, has a spontaneous and deep sense of collectivity, and this is why the families who work the land follow practices of mutual help, such as the ones called ayni and minka, i.e. collective work without compensation. These practices go beyond the individual social dimension in the name of common welfare. The collective management of water is particularly interesting: the irrigation of each plot is organized collectively. In existing social relationships between families and communities, bartering plays an important role from a social and economic point of view and creates a sense of trust which goes beyond the exchange of goods.

The sense of community and mutual support in farming communities stems from the strong spirituality with which people look at and respect nature. For instance, before starting a meal at the time of sowing, a glass of Pachamama chicha is offered to thank for a rich harvest.
Another example of the spiritual value of corn is the festival of San Isidro Labrador, patron saint of farmers, celebrated on May 15t on the square in Andahuaylillas.
During the celebration, the ancestral Chuwi Tarpuy ritual takes place. This is the sowing of beans, which are intercropped with corn. With the help of oxen, farmers symbolically plough the square. The seeds and the animals are blessed and people begin to chant the ""yaravíes"", songs for the saints sang in the Quechua language. During other religious celebrations, corn is used as a currency to exchange handcrafted clay utensils.

The farmers in this community also preserve seeds and use the manure of their own animals to enrich the soil, thus being fully self-sufficient.

Pesqorunto corn is part of this rich and precious sociocultural heritage, and needs to be safeguarded from the introduction of new hybrid forms of corn, which seriously threaten its survival.

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Other info


Cereals and flours

Indigenous community:Yutto
Nominated by:Rosa Miranda Almarás