Saturday, November 25, 2017

Yuca (Fariña) Factory: Production in the Village

While my last post briefly mentioned our fariña plant, we now have a full report!  

During 2017 the three most successful parts of our program were the student scholarships, community garden, and the fariña plant.  Here are the details of our work with the community which made the plant possible.

Students from La Libertad

Yuca is called cassava in English.  Yuca, plantain, and fish make up the majority of the diet of the villagers.  Yuca is easy to grow in poor soil conditions, is drought resistant, and is an excellent source of carbohydrates.  However, it must be processed.  Unprocessed yuca contains traces of the toxin cyanide.  The yuca is either fermented, boiled, or roasted to remove the cyanide.

When yuca is ground and roasted it becomes fariña.  Fariña retains the nutritional benefits of the yuca and is good for months in storage (if kept dry in plastic bags).  Fariña may be produced in amounts of up to 500 pounds per producing family every six months.  It may then be used by the family, sold locally, or brought to the city of Leticia to be sold.
The yuca plant.  It can grow up to 12 feet in height.  Out of the 40 families in La Libertad, about 20 regularly grow yuca.

The roots are the edible part of the yuca plant.  After harvest the roots must be eaten or turned into fariña within four days.  After four days it spoils and is inedible.

The roots are peeled and soaked in water for 24 hours.  There are two types of yuca; white and yellow.  The white is less bitter.  It is boiled, used in soups, and fried.  The yellow is very bitter and contains more cyanide.  The yellow yuca is typically made into fariña.  When processed if becomes much less bitter and nontoxic.

Pictured is Richard and Carmen with their children.  They are using a motorized grater to grind the yuca.  Before the motorization all grating was done by hand.  This was very time consuming and led to repetitive motion and hand-grating injuries.  Now instead of needing one day to grate, the yuca may be grated in about an hour.

The children are next to the new yuca press.  It removes the water from the yuca mash.  This is done before the yuca is roasted.  When much water is removed the yuca takes less time to roast.  The old press took about 24 hours to remove the water.  The new press removes more water in less time; only three hours.  The design above is the third prototype.  Each board is two inches thick, made of hardwood, and weights about 80 pounds!  The pulley system allows one adult to raise and lower the top board without help.  The cost to build this system was $75.

Here is a video from the first time we pressed the mash.  This was a historic event for the villagers.  There are five families (about 40 people) that use the yuca plant. 

Here is the oven that is used to toast the yuca.  We hope to build a new oven in 2018.

The yuca must be moved and turned during roasting or it will burn.

It normally takes around three hours to roast a pan of yuca.

After the fariña has cooled it is placed into bags for storage or to sell.

At last, the finished product is ready to eat.  Yum!!!!!!

Thank you for reading about out project!

For more yuca information, with recipes: 

Please help us to continue our work on this Giving Tuesday, November 28.  We are trying to provide scholarships to at least six more students during 2018.  Anyone donating $100 or more will be able to sponsor (if they wish) a boy or girl from the village.  

Sponsor a student, change a life!

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