Monción: home of cassava and the largest industry in the country

The cassava was recently nominated as “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”before the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)not only for the Dominican Republic, but also for Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Honduras.

Given this nomination, the Ministry of Culture, together with the Dominican commission of Unesco, organized a trip to Monciónto make a short film where they capture what is known as “La Ruta del Casabe”, and show how this food is made, a legacy of our Taino roots and their culture.

“The Casabe Route” It emerged as an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, the National Institute for Professional Technical Training (Infotep) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to promote tourism in this municipality that belongs to Santiago Rodríguez.

This experience is made up of a visit to the three main industries of Moncióndespite the fact that there are more than 200 producers in the region.

Within the experience is “The Viewpoint of Doña Mechi”a small factory where artisan cassava is made, the Guaraguanó factorywhich was the first industry in the municipality and finally the Casabi factory.

Each industry represents a way of working the productIn addition to being cassava producers and exporters, they represent a source of employment for the community members of Santiago Rodríguez.

What I lived on the road

The viewpoint of Doña Mechi, welcomes the “Ruta del Casabe” in which the Taino experience in its preparation is shown. Its founder, Cándida Castillo Reyes, 68, produces cassava by hand, although she includes some more industrial machinery, such as gas ovens, which allows her to increase her production.

Cándida shows tourists and visitors who come to Monción, how the Tainos made cassava with firewood on a buren while they worked the yucca in a clay tray.

The tour of its viewpoint includes tasting, dances, Taino-style cassava preparation, a journey through the history of cassava and cassava, for a cost of RD$500.00.

Your factory produces per month between 45,000 to 50,000 cassava cakes, of which it exports approximately 3,800 boxes to the United States every 45 daysIt also distributes around 800 in the Bohío Supermarket in Santiago and the Morel Supermarket in Mao. Its distribution does not extend to Santo Domingo, but it receives orders and sends them via buses that leave for the capital.

Make large cassava cakes, buffet type and stamped. It has six varieties, among which are: natural flavor, coconut, garlic, pineapple, among others.

this little company provides 8 to 12 permanent jobswithout counting the indirect jobs that arise due to the manufacture of production, such as: harvesters, sellers of raw materials and transporters.

The second stop on the route is the Guaraguanó factory, which represents “The industrial experience” Due to the fact that it has a greater amount of machinery that allows it to process the product more quickly, the cost for the visit amounts to between RD$400.00 and 600.00.

It is the oldest industry in the municipality and its founder, Nicolás Almonte Pérez, 74 years oldwas the pioneer in the industrialization of cassavasince it was in the mid-70s when the project began, times in which cassava was only made for family consumption.

Almonte changed the concept and began to distribute the cassava, personally, while working at the post office, until he started the project that we know today as “Guaraguanó”.

Economically, it is a larger company, therefore it generates more jobs. Currently, there are 87 employees on the payroll, which include workers from the factory and those from the distribution center in Santo Domingo.

Monthly, they produce between 150,000 and 175,000 units, of which between 25 and 28% are distributed to Europe and the United States.. In the US, it particularly has subsidiaries in the Bronx, Manhattan and New York, where they sell and distribute the product. In addition, they make cassava for private brands that distribute it under their label.

The third industry that represents ”The innovation experience” is Casabí. It is considered as such for its innovations in machinery and improvements in cassava production.

”Every year we innovate cassava in different shapes, flavors and sizes to make it easier for people to consume cassava”expressed Carlos Sánchez, general manager of the factory.

The Casabí company generates 60 direct jobs and produce around 5,000 or more units per daywhich would be equivalent to 115,000 units per month.

It exports to the United States, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Canada, approximately two containers per month, equivalent to 50,000 cakes. They distribute throughout the country, mainly in large supermarket chains such as Bravo, El Nacional, Carrefour, and La Cadena.

There are 17 varieties of their products in different sizes, also with flavors of garlic, herbs, among others.

Another stop on the tour was Industria e Importación Angavil, the company that produces the Caridom brand.

this factory It is not part of the industries that contemplates “La Ruta del Casabe”but for the creativity in the realization of this product It is part of the tour organized by Unesco and the Ministry of Culture.

This company does not distribute cassava in the national territory, All their production, amounting to 60 or 70 truckloads of cassava per month, are sent to the distribution center they have in the Bronx, United States, called Carive Import, where they also sell to Canada and Miami. The containers carry between 2,618 and 3,040 boxes of cassava. The company that has been operating since 2019 corresponds to Antonio García.

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