Harina de Mezquite wins major Federal Government funding

SEED Mexico has had a relationship with the youth of Santiago Suchilquitongo for three years now and a lot has happened in that time.

The original Zapotec occupation of the area in the Oaxaca Central Valley around Santiago Suchilquitongo began about 500 BC with small settlements forming around 750 AD. About 1,200 people lived in this area around the historic archeological centre of ‘Cerro de la Campana’ (roughly translated as ‘Bell Hill’) until its decline in the ninth century.

While the Cerro de la Campana’s fall remains unknown, the surrounding settlements also experienced a period of turbulence, along with many other Mixtec and Aztec cultures in the Oaxaca region. It was during this time that the small valley adjacent to the Cerro de la Campana received its name of Xochiquilitonco - ‘In the flowery quelitillos’. Today, a population of nearly 12,000 people in Santiago Suchilquitongo resides, located within an hour of Oaxaca City.

The municipality contains a semi-urban environment with clusters of homes and shops on the ridges surrounding the shared centrally located territory, characterized by its agro productivity and fertile soil.

After delivering the Fundación ORB Isitia programme, participating youth and their friends wanted to continue with the SEED programme. Upon finishing the phase 1 workshops, the SEED-Mexico team presented the Suchilquitongo community roadmap in mid 2014, the Suchilquitongo Community Development Association was formed, and a number of projects progressed through startup development.

HARINA DE MEZQUITE

Once an extremely abundant tree throughout the state of Oaxaca, Mesquite has suffered from deforestation and now isfound in dense clusters scattered about the various regions. Traditionally harvested as animal fodder and a source of cooking wood, few Oaxacans have known of its nutritional benefits for people.

Mesquite (Prosopis) became a basic staple food for the indigenous desert communities of Northern Mexico, Western South America, and the Southern United States. The tree’s pods were a reliable source of food during periods of drought. Research shows that mesquite flour could contribute to combatting food scarcity because of its high nutritional contents which have many deeming it the "Queen of Proteins.” As a superfood and wheat flour alternative, it makes an excellent choice for athletes, vegetarians, vegans, people suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, and anyone who seeks sources of natural energy.

The SEED Mexico team has been working closely with the Suchilquitongo group to harvest, process, and sell the milled mesquite flour to local markets and channels in Mexico City. The ORB Foundation and the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation have continually supported the project, from the ideation and prototyping stages to branding and initial sales. The project now employs a small number of youth as it slowly scales production.

FEDERAL FUNDING

As recipients of a grant from the Mexican federal government’s program Cultivating the Social Economy, the mesquite flour team joined a select group of entrepreneurs from the state of Oaxaca who demonstrated true potential in creating a sustainable project. The group will use the funds to support the ongoing development of the new venture. This is a great vindication for all the effort undertaken to date.

ONGOING SUPPORT

If you are interested in learning more about the mesquite flour project, would like to try some of the product or support the group, please contact Richard Hanson, SEED Mexico Operational Director: richard.hanson@seedglobal.org.