La Guajira Cowpea

Colombia

La Guajira

Legumes

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La Guajira Cowpea

The Caribbean coastal municipality of Manaure in the Alta Guajira appears in many of Gabriel García Márquez’s novels. Mentioned in One Hundred Years of Solitude (visited by Rebeca Buendía and troubadour Francisco El Hombre, to whom a festival of folk music is still dedicated), Manaure is also the town where Chronicle of a Death Foretold is set. In the book, it is called “the village baked by Caribbean salt,” and indeed sea-salt extraction was once a thriving industry in the area.
The predominant ethnic group is the Wayuu, an indigenous people who have preserved their own language (Wayuunaiki), traditions and customs and who make a living from hunting, fishing, goat farming, wild fruit gathering and craft-making. The hot, dry climate and semi-desert environment makes agriculture extremely difficult, though small plots called yujas are cultivated.
The most common of the traditional crops is the guajiro cowpea (known locally as kapeshuna), actually several bean varieties, all with a high protein content but with different colors (gray, white, blue or brown with small white speckles). The beans are sown before the rainy season, which lasts from March to October. The men dig furrows in the earth with a long pointed stake while the women and children follow behind scattering three to five seeds in each furrow. It tends to be the women who save the seeds, selecting them and storing them in gourds from the new moon until the rainy season.
The origin of beans features in the Wayuu cosmogony, linked specifically to two mythological figures, Juyakai (the male personification of rain) and Pulowi (a female representative of drought). According to various legends, the union of these two sacred beings gave rise to the seeds and the plants. The beans are a key ingredient in many of the Wayuu community’s traditional recipes, like poy, a soup dense with kapeshuna cooked with lamb fat and yellow corn, traditionally served to young women after their first menstrual cycle.

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Due to environmental, social, cultural and economic factors—like the collapse of the salt industry and dependence on gas extraction and coal mining—the inhabitants of the Alta Guajira live in conditions of extreme vulnerability. 85% of Manaure’s citizens live in a state of poverty and the survival of much of the municipality’s rural population depends on food donations from government agencies. Since 2013, Slow Food, along with national and international partners, has been developing projects to promote Manaure’s traditional food products, such as this Presidium. An initial community food garden has already been planted at the Ishashimana community’s ethno-education institute, and the students, teachers and wider community have been involved in a series of cultural and agricultural activities. The Presidium will continue to develop activities aimed at reviving the production of traditional Wayuu foods, with the aim of improving food security and sovereignty.

Production area
Six indigenous Wayuu communities, Manaure municipality, La Guajira department

Presidium supported by
Ford Foundation
DPS – Colombian Department for Social Prosperity

In collaboration with
RIMISP – Latin American Center for Rural Development
Diversidad y Desarrollo
150 members of the Isho Territory Association of Wayuu Traditional Authorities
Slow Food Presidium Coordinators
Agustín Rosendo Uriana Uriana
Tel. +57 3106503646
agustinuriana@yahoo.es

Luis Mario Uriana Uriana
Tel. 310 692 95 89
lmariouriana@uniguajira.edu.co
Due to environmental, social, cultural and economic factors—like the collapse of the salt industry and dependence on gas extraction and coal mining—the inhabitants of the Alta Guajira live in conditions of extreme vulnerability. 85% of Manaure’s citizens live in a state of poverty and the survival of much of the municipality’s rural population depends on food donations from government agencies. Since 2013, Slow Food, along with national and international partners, has been developing projects to promote Manaure’s traditional food products, such as this Presidium. An initial community food garden has already been planted at the Ishashimana community’s ethno-education institute, and the students, teachers and wider community have been involved in a series of cultural and agricultural activities. The Presidium will continue to develop activities aimed at reviving the production of traditional Wayuu foods, with the aim of improving food security and sovereignty.

Production area
Six indigenous Wayuu communities, Manaure municipality, La Guajira department

Presidium supported by
Ford Foundation
DPS – Colombian Department for Social Prosperity

In collaboration with
RIMISP – Latin American Center for Rural Development
Diversidad y Desarrollo
150 members of the Isho Territory Association of Wayuu Traditional Authorities
Slow Food Presidium Coordinators
Agustín Rosendo Uriana Uriana
Tel. +57 3106503646
agustinuriana@yahoo.es

Luis Mario Uriana Uriana
Tel. 310 692 95 89
lmariouriana@uniguajira.edu.co

Territory

StateColombia
RegionLa Guajira

Other info

CategoriesLegumes