Yucca Sabrosita

Ark of taste
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Yucca sabrosita (“savory yam”) is a perennial plant whose trunk can grow up to two meters tall, with a dark brown or caramel colored root system that can also be divided into various minor roots. The leaves are dark green and during cultivation the outgrowths must be removed to allow the tuber to be as long as possible. The period between sowing and harvest can last between 10 and 11 months. According to the indigenous peoples of Guajira, this yam takes about one year before it begins to produce. Every hectare of land can give up to 200 roots. The fruit is yellow and the peel can be removed quite easily.   This variety is cultivated by farmers with small plots of land in the Cerrimiento de Rio Ancho section of Guajira, though there are large fields of this fruit all over the region that have existed since time immemorial. In 1534 this yam was already known in the eastern and southeastern villages of Mount Santa Marta in the Sierra Nevadas. Thanks to the contact between the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Mountains and the Wayuu, this cultivation came to the peninsula of Guajira. The yam grown in Rio Ancho was called sabrosita because its flavor was particularly good, almost sweet, and thanks as well to its meaty consistency. Furthermore, this variety’s productivity is better than other yam varieties and the fruit is also larger.     One of the most popular and traditional dishes made from this product are the buñuelos navideños: Christmas pancakes that are prepared on Christmas Eve and eaten as a family. Once they are ready honey is drizzled on top: these treats are soft, spongy, and fat-free. Other traditional dishes include the arepa de yucca, caribañuelas, and bollo de yuca con cocco.   This product was historically cultivated along the slopes of Mount Santa Marta in the Sierra Nevadas. Close to Dibulla, the major production area was the Corregimiento di Rio Ancho. Today there are about 880 hectares of yucca that produce 9,600 tons of fruit per year in the Guajira region. However, it is impossible to say how many of these hectares are dedicated to yucca sabrosita. This product is for sale on the market, but is less and less common. The antiquity of the seeds increases the risk that this yam will disappear, given that it also has a low economic yield. A final factor that worsens the situation is the affect that pesticides used in illegal cultivation in the nearby areas has on the crops. 

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La Guajira