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Sweet Task
The ecologic sugar is one of the healthy and exportable choices of Piura.

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The Festival of Granulated Pan, anually staged in Montero Town (Ayabaca, Peru) is a good opportunity to activate or rre-activate local and international marketing networks as well. Continue reading this story to know when this year's festival is going to be.
Photos Courtesy Comunicaciones Piura.

PIURA CITY, Peru - It seems to be a titanic challenge but somebody has to do it: sweetening everything that can be sweetened not increasing one pound of body weight. The stebia is already a solution available in the local market but its price continues a bit expensive above than conventional sugar.

The choices are giving up or following in search of another natural option, reasonable price... and that gets the task of keeping healthy especially in a region where the levels of diabetes or heart-related diseases are high in Peruvian context.

Maybe that option is the granulated pan, the evaporated and crystalized sugarcane juice for obtaining pure sucrose. There is no more process to do, not chemical at least.

The home of the granulated pan in Peru seems to be Piura Region and specifically midlands of Ayabaca and Huancabamba Provinces.  For the lifetime, it was known here as chancaca, which artisanal process comes from the same moment when sugarcane was introduced by Spaniards, which price was rraising the last years according to NorAndino Cooperative's manager Santiago Paz López.

"Across Piura there are about 30 production plants," he said to FACTORTIERRA.NET during a private tour through the plant the cooperative owns at Piura City's Industrial Zone. In this lot, it is wared in terms of humidity and color, homogenized in a mill, scanned verifying of any piece of metal gets not hidden, measured, and stands by exportation because the sweet product -penetrating vanilla aroma- is sold in North America and Europe.

"Every ton costs about 400 euros [US$ 420] in Europe, and it's expensive when it reaches the final consumer, who pays that price due to its quality," Paz details.

In spite of trials for automation, the whole process of ecologic sugar still requiress human intervention. Paz adds in that sense he prefers to consult machinery-specialized firms intstead of activating a research+development tagline. Let's tell also that some local universities had preferred not to share the patent of some related projects.

Before the long trip until the final consumer markets, the granulated pan passes through a last quality control at this facilitty in Piura Citty, Peru.
Photos Courtesy Comunicaciones Piura.

Chancaca and cañazo
The pan received by the NorAndino plant comes mainly from Middle Quiroz Valley in Ayabaca Province. The producer districts of sugarcane for ecologic sugar are Ayabaca, Jililí, Lagunas, Montero and Sícchez. It is estimated 1700 families work in 2500 hectares or 6,18 million acres and produce 4000 tons of sugar. Their markets are France, Italy, Canada and Germany.

In NorAndino case, its main buyer is Italy-based Alce Nero, "but buyers are also France's Ethiquable, Germany's Gepa and Canada's La Siembra," Lima's El Comercio newspaper printed. Ending 2016, it expected to export 1500 tons, which 800 were bought by Alce Nero. It was planned it purchased the double this year, according to that paper's report.

Perhaps the first Italian who wrote fascinated about the Piura's sugarcane was the scientist Antonio Raimondi around 170 years ago.  It is not discarded he visited Ayabaca, then one  of the three provinces those Piura Department had.

The products traditionally extracted from sugarcane are the cañazo or distilled liquor, and chancaca or paste of sugarcane juice. The cañazo is still sold for human consumption due to one liter or 33,8 ounces are three times cheaper than 650 mililiters or 22 ounces of barley beer, while the chancaca is still used in Socchabamba, a rural town, for mixing with broken peanut and obtaining the bocadillo, one of the most valued candies in Ayabaca City.

According to Peru's Sierra Exportadora Programme, the bocadillo does not mean big gains for its makers, so it is persuading them to discontinue the manufacturation then they dedicate to make pan instead. According to its estimations, one hectare or 2471 acres could give 5 tons of granulated pan.

Even if you travel from the coast to Ayabaca City by the Tondopa Bridge route, it is possible to taste pieces of sugarcane just cut by Arraypite Bajo Village's locals, US$ 0,30 each little bag.

Growers only use organic processes for the sugarcane. That assures its healthy value and the appreciation by consumers in North America and Europe.
Photo Courtesy Comunicaciones Piura.

Deep differences
Part of underestimation that sugarcane had was because  of pushing experienced by the coffee, but as FACTORTIERRA.NET reported, this crop has been dropped down its production volumes during the last years.

The decrease that coffee had in Montero and Jililí Districts, Ayabaca Province, was enough motivation for the local farmers to  dedicate,  to rescue instead, sugarcane cropping. Until 2016, tehre were 800 hectares or 1,98 million acres planted.

Coffee & Sugarcane Producers sonal of Jililí District's president Luis Santos Saguma, told to Radio Cutivalú that two hectares or 4942 acres of sugarcane he owns to produce 8 tons of pan. In contrast, the three hectares or 7413 acres he has dedicated to coffee now only produce 0,6 tons when became producing 3 tons before.

In Sícchez District, the local processing plant produces 2-2,2 tons of pan, and according to Mayor Porfirio Machacuay, it has better perspective if sels to the international market.

That means to enlarge cropping area, to improve production processes, an to create more sugarcane growers' associations. Also, A NorAndino spokesman assures that the reduction of alcoholism and gender violence levels are part of the package, although he has not specified numbers.

It is stated inside the local industry of sugarcane that there were people who attended to work drunk, especially in processes as milling. Their negligence became to cost disabled arms. Today those accidents seem to reduce although there is not a record confirmating that.

The associated growers ignore if this accountability achievement influences on the  buy decision of final consumer in the U.S., Canada, or Europe, Germany especially, who receive  it due to fair trade system.

The fact is next to cacao, now the pan is one of the Piura Region's flagship exportations. However, its impact in local markets is still shy despite its apparent benefits, because that about sweetening not gaining any additional pound of body weight, in actual times, is really a complete task.

One of the opportunities for proving it could be the Granulated Pan Festival, staged annually in Montero, which this year  marks its tenth edition, that also will be staged in Piura City simultaneously, in October 19th to 21st. Thus, the another challenge will be open and satisfy the local market the rest of the year.

FACEBOOK: Check out more photos of the granulated pan's process.

With reports of Liliana Alzamora and John Leonardo Flores.
© 2017 Asociación Civil Factor Tierra. All Rights Reserved.

READ ALSO: The another face of sugarcane in Piura Region.
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