Onions from Ixil, a unique Yucatecan crop that needs to be rescued

(Photo: La Jornada Maya)

Only 15 families in all of Mexico are dedicated to the production and cultivation of Ixil onions. Given this scenario, the Ministry of Rural Development of Yucatan (Seder) began a rescue program from November 2021.

The price of the crop was plummeting, and the producers no longer found it profitable to harvest onions, so they preferred to plant other crops. Then, the secretariat approached the farmers and the Ixil City Council to ensure that the onion remained in the region.

“Two six-year terms ago there was talk of rescuing the Ixil onion, but until now there are actions for it,” said engineer José Manuel Bolio García, director of agriculture at Seder during the presentation of the taco festival in Mérida, Tacocardia.

In said festival, which will take place on April 1, 2, and 3, they will promote the Ixil onion in different presentations, as an effort in alliance with Seder and the Secretary of Tourism Development (Sefotur) that presented a few days ago to 2022 as the year of gastronomy.

Within the producing families, the council will select a delegation to be present at the festival and to be able to market the onion.

Promoting the onion at different points of sale and holding meetings with the producers to increase the harvest, they have managed to currently cost 70 pesos per kilo of onions from Ixil, however, it is not enough for the total benefit of the families of the region. And the price will increase until it reaches 120 pesos a kilo.

Bolio García stressed that if someone wanted to plant an Ixil onion seed in another place, it would have different characteristics and flavor.

“Ixil has the specific characteristic of a special flavor that distinguishes it from any other type of onion. What we are looking for is to keep the flavor, the crunchy, ”he said.

The onions give a harvest of around 3.5-4 tons per cycle, currently, they are sown in November or December, to be harvested in May “we would like it to be more because they have the potential for more families to benefit in Ixil,” said Bolio García.

For the optimal cultivation and growth of the onions, six months must pass and it must not be the rainy season, as the seed could rot.

The mayor of Ixil, Sandra Pech, emphasized that there is a lack of diffusion of this local crop “no one had given support to the Ixil onion,” she said.

“For the Ixileños it is a very important tradition, more than the monetary value, it is the historical and cultural value that it represents,” stressed the mayor.

For Sandra, the families that still grow the onions have become guardians of the Ixil onion, a tradition that passes from generation to generation.

Usually, the families gave away the production among relatives and neighbors, “they planted to preserve the tradition, not for any other benefit” however, from the talks with Seder, they agreed to spread it with more points of sale so that the families benefit.

The Yucatan Times
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