QUEBRADA de HUMAHUACA
The Quebrada de Humahuaca, in the Jujuy Province, is by far one of the most culturally rich territories of Argentina and was declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The great wealth of ecosystems of this sub-region, allows local farmers to develop a great variety of local food and products with a strong regional identity. The Andean potatoes, corn, kiwicha, quinoa, oca and papa lisa are all typically cultivated throughout most of the valley – which potential is huge, considering the added cultural value, vibrant indigenous culture and the unique beauty of the natural landscape. The Andean food culture is in fact an incredible resource for the region, both for its genetic heritage and its economic potential.
BIOPHILIA is working in the Quebrada de Humahuaca with a network of selected local farmers, developing a diversified portfolio of high-quality products with a strong local identity. Through a solid strategic program based on sustainable agricultural practices, BIOPHILIA works with goal to create a heterogeneous regional brand with direct access to markets, upon the Principles of Fair Trade. This strategy allows the empowerment of a regional economy, increases labour opportunities and enhance the conservation of biodiversity. BIOPHILIA’s food related projects in the Quebrada of Humahuaca currently focus on:
The earlier testimony of farmers growing potatoes in the Quebrada de Humahuaca dates back to 1.900 B.C., when everyone within the community was actively involved in the development of a particular type of potato and families used to call with their own name the varieties they produced. At that time, part of the community was assigned to grow the tubers, while the other specialized in seed conservation. Today, almost half of the 70 varieties produced in the valley 40 years ago vanished.
However, the species of tubers that manage to survive stand out as a unique product for their unique flavor, color, texture and high protein content. Three quarter of these varieties are part of the solanum tuberosum andigena species. BIOPHILIA is working on a network of communities of farmers that are located throughout the Altiplano at an altitude ranging from 2,100 to 3,800 meters. This is where the Papa Azul grows; the sweetest potato in this category, cylindrical with dark blue skin and white flecks and yellow pulp; the Papa Señorita, irregular in shape, has white skin streaked with pink and yellowish flesh; the Cuarentilla, pink skin and white flesh; the Tuni Morada is round and flat, dark skinned with white flesh perfect for mashing and the Chacarera, with blunted ends, white skin and white flesh, ideal for frying.
The yacón is a versatile, melon-flavored root which origins are lost in Argentina’s pre-Hispanic past. The plant is cultivated using ancient techniques that can be traced back to the Incas. The yacón is cultivated in rotation with corn or potatoes, and is best harvested from August to September. The shrub has a thin trunk and green leaves, and can reach one-and-a-half meters in height. The edible part of the plant grows below ground, where the root boasts a sweet and succulent pale yellow pulp, similar in texture to that of a pear. If handled gently and stored in a cool, dark place, Yacón will remain fresh for months. The high concentration of inulin (a natural sugar substitute) makes of this root the ideal food for diabetes diet. Once the root has been left out in the sun long enough for the skin to shrivel up, the flesh can be enjoyed raw. In the Quebrada of Humahuaca the Yacón is typically used to make juices, jams and fruit jellies, while the leaves are used for infusions.
Cooperativa de Productores de Yacón de Chorrillos-Barcena — Dir. Susana Martinez
QUINOA & KIWICHA
The Quinoa is gluten-free, pseudo-grain with unique nutritional values. It has been cultivated since thousands of years through most of the Andean Altiplano, and its name means Mother Grain. While its origins date back to the Inca Empire, and almost got lost under the colonial Age, in 2013 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the International Year of Quinoa declaring this pseudo-grain a key to significantly contribute in ending hunger, malnutrition and poverty. BIOPHILIA is working in the Quebrada de Humahuaca to select and empower a network of Quinoa producers, in order to develop a variety of quinoa-related products. Part of the project focuses on the Kiwicha, a supergrain typical of the Andean Altiplano, also known as Amaranth or mini-quinoa. Learn more about the FAO’s International Year of Quinoa:
The Quebrada de Humahuaca is also rich in goat species, some of which are perfect to deliver excellent varieties of hard and fresh cheeses. BIOPHILIA is working to improve the production and quality standards within the valley by selecting and consolidating a network of specialized cheese producers and goat farmers. The communities involved will work to develop a unique set of unique of products with a strong local identity, revitalizing ancient traditions while integrating modern technologies and productive techniques, in order to gain direct access to wider markets. In most cases, the goat cheese is enriched with autochthonous aromatic herbs and plants, allowing to strengthen a synergetic exchange between different communities. BIOPHILIA’s goal is to achieve a solid, high-quality goat cheese production that will be protected and licensed under the principles of Protected Designation of Origin.
Quinoa, Kiwicha, Yacón, Andean Potatoes, Sweet Corn, Goat Cheese, Aromatic Herbs