The crown's on its way
The so-called king of the desert doesn't expand all its majesty yet.
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This is a South American carob tree or Prosopis pallida
in a forest near Piura City, Peru.
Photo: © Arturo Peñaherrera.
It is considered as the emblematic tree of Piura
Region's Coast -it normally doesn't grow over than 1650 feet altitude-
and it is supposed the Spaniards found it here dominating the landscape
when they arrived here in 1532.
The conquerors fastly related it to the European carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), then assigned that name to the species that locals called tahko, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)'s research, although some archeologists asked by FACTORTIERRA.NET doubt about that theory.
the carob word, actually, has Arabian roots - alarrooba, coming from Persian alarroob what means donkey's jaw, curiously the animal that consumes it a lot and never stops to chew it here in Piura.
However, the word describes the European species, apparently not related genetically to South American one, the Prosopis pallida actually.
FAO states Italian scientific Antonio Raimondi
found idols sculpted on this wood during his exploration at Peruvian
Northern in 19th century, although it doesn't specify where.
Even the Prosopis pallida
lives between Colombia and Peru, the most individuals flourish between
Tumbes and La Libertad Regions, then Ica region but in little colonies.
Inclusive, it got to naturalize at Molokai Island (Hawaii, USA), Puerto
Rico and Rio grande do Norte (Brazil), where it is cropped.
Nevertheless, Piura is possibly that uses it a lot, although the most
goes for feeding cattle and just 35% is transformed for human
consumption. In some rural places, it's one of the selected species for
reforestation because its strong fixation into the soil and its
Carobs fores inside University of Piura campus, the largest of its kind in a metro area.
Photo: © Arturo Peñaherrera.
"As the carob tree grows up, grows down too," Agronomist
Godofredo García Jr., unforgettable Godofredo García's son, explained
about 15 years ago. In fact, carob tree's root penetrates into the soil
as much as it can find water. Some researches assure found
230-feet-length roots in the dry forests.
It's also part of the urban landscape. Even the finest corners in Piura City have one carob tree standing-up at least, or fighting to stand-up.
One of the city's oldest carob trees is located on Grau Club's
frontfence, just a block away to the west from Ica and Sullana Streets
cross. It's possibly more than 230 years old.
In March 2015, University of Piura and Piura Province Municipality
launched an initiative to highlight the oldest carob trees across the
metro area. Inclusive, it's pressumed a tree of this kind on Tacna
Street, Castilla City, is more than 270 years old, and that sample is still standing-up.
The unlucky ones were the carob trees on José de Lama Avenue, Sullana
City, those could be a century old. When remodeling works started
in 2015, they were removed from their roots despite the citizen protest.
Even being abundant in Piura Region, inhabitants just use less than a fifth of all carob tree's benefits.
Photo: © Arturo Peñaherrera.
The Equatorial Dry Forest
is the predominant landscape in Piura Coast. Taking the estimations of
University of Córdoba (spain)'s Dr Rafael Navarro, for each 25
acres existent in Peru, 18 belong to Piura.
The dry forest,
typical of Equatorial South America's lowlands, controls the climate
variations and reduces the vulnerability of related impacts, like
droughts or extraordinary rains. Its problem is a trend to be
vulnerable in case of floods.
The carob tree is one of the most important species in the dry forest or the easiest to identify at least.
Official sources trusted FACTORTIERRA.NET that it's necessary to update
the surface occupied by carob trees across Piura Region, especially
after the last Coastal El Niño
event. However, they estimate we could talking about 6000 square miles,
from 1/4 to 1/5 of the region's territory. This means about 750 square
miles aditional to prior years.
What could not reduce is te carob tree's deforestated surface, about 75
sq mi, or 10000 soccer fields, or quite less than Malawi's territory.
The Peruvian carob, at least is yellow unlike other varieties, but all
the uses the human being can extract from it are just starting to
Photo Courtesy by University of Piura.
everything from the tree is used: leaves as a fertilizer, the trunk
mostly for fuel, and fruits are a very versatile food. Plus, each carob
tree is capable to host a full ecosystem, human being included, as
Rafael Otero López's Mis Algarrobos
(My Carob Trees) Peruvian creole waltz celebrates. Coming down
next, a free literal version of the lyrics by FACTORTIERRA.NET:
green, my green carob trees.
Green like the faith of the hope.
Among their branches, nests hang
formed by the birds on their way.
Green, my green carobs.
One another one
its dominant shadow
under that spelendid branchage
a sad peasant
lays his body,
among the trunks ofr my carob trees.
Pass the birds
in a continous flight.
One after one
carry in their peaks
the dry leaves
thrown by the wind,
fallen on the soil,
among the trunks of my carob trees.
Pretty madly, the river comes down curving.
A shack, a candle, a wolf hound.
A little chick I love delirious.
Among the trunks of my carob trees.
The trunk and the leaves are not exported but the transformed fruit, not
in brute, from the famous algarrobina or carob syrup until a new line
going from integral to combined-with-other-cereals flour, and carob
coffee, that only gives flavor but does not have the stimulant
effect of the cafein because it is inexistent. Despite, all products
made of carob are rich of nytrogen, potasium, iron, saccharose, as well
as they have a laxative effect.
At least for the
people who lived connected to the countryside, an using or just a
common memory was walking beneath the carob tree tops and beside their
trunks to gather carobs. Many ones ended in a big caserole
boiling for getting algarrobina.
But before that
candy, the rural people in their 60s tell that their breakfast had a
fresh carob puree, sometimes mixed with milk - the ancient yoopeeceen.
It is virtually extinguished nowadays.
The algarrobina is maybe the most famous human consumption product made of carob. It's a bitter
and sweet syrup, which displays come in all known brown tones,
according to the desired use, and it's reknown as an natural energizer
due to its big saccharose and iron concentration.
It uses to be
added as a supplement in fruit juices and milk shakes, being its most
appreciated recipe the cocktail prepared with Peruvian pisco and
blended yolk. Drink it cool, please.
The international potentials of the carob are still under research
although its commercial processing is almost half-a-century old.
Photo: © Arturo Peñaherrera.
Piura's algarrobina in 2005 figured out a US$ 26505 income.
That year, the region had produced 136446 tons of carob in
more than 1350 square miles opf dry forest, according to La República.
The newspaper pointed out that just 22% or 30018 tons are consumed in
the domestic market.
In March 2009,
the production raised to 300000 tons, according to Technological
Innovation Center's director Dr Gastón Cruz, but its availability had
reduced to 30000 tons or 10%, being still countryside people and cattle
their top consumer target.
But seven years
later, Cruz readjusted the number to 200000 tons, after a cliff down to
50000 in 2014 and 2015 because of drought and some plagues, as he said
to Radio Cutivalú.
In December 2007, it was announced that algarrobina from Chutuque (Cristo Nos Valga in Sechura) would be exported to Germany. Then, its direct
competitors were Asociación María de los Ángeles near Chulucanas, and
Santa María de Locuto in front of Tambogrande, considered as that
kind's pilot experience.
Santa María de
Locuto began to supply supermarkets in Piura City, then it was
eventually opening its market toward Lima City. Its model is considered
successful as a communitarian organization and environmental protection.
Despite it was explored more products from the carob in the last 30 years, the offer is still scarce or unknown.
The efforts to
migrate from a handmade to an a basically industrialized
preparation have been mainly kept inside University of Piura campus,
that hosts one of the largest carob forest in a metro area.
From new drying
techniques to machines for processing algarrobina and other
products, the most of research+development in favor of the Piura's
emblematic tree have been concentrated here, that paradoxically
doesn't have any specialized school on agriculture.
started in 1983 and are sharing worldwide. To complete the paradox
muchly, it's the one that published most about this issue in
terms of broad audiences, Spanish-speaker at least.
competitor, National University of Piura in Castilla had announced in
2009 it was beginning a handmade line of natural products, algarrobina
included within. But despite University of Piura, it just began to
study their international potentials.
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