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OCDIH (Christian Organisation for Development) – Jos’ Angel Menjivar cutting sugar cane. Jos’ belongs to one of four families are involved in processing the raw sugarcane. Oxfam funded the seeds for this year’s sugarcane, and through OCDIH, will help the families to make granulated sugar, and to sell directly to the market.

The sugarcane is cut and brought downhill on an ox to the covered area where it is processed. Ropes are attached to the ox, which walks round and round to power the machine which presses the raw cane. This produces ‘calda de ca’a’ or ‘cane soup’. The outer leaves are removed before pressing and used for ox feed, and the plant material which remains after pressing is used to fuel the fire for the next stage.

The cane soup is boiled in a huge rectangular container. A layer forms on top, which is removed and poured into moulds to make what is called cachaza, a dark brown, coarse form of sugar. This is sold as a sweet. The next layer to be removed and poured into moulds forms what is known as batido. It looks like fudge, and is also sold as a sweet. What is left makes dulce de panela. This is paler, finer, and of better quality than the two previous batches. It is sold to sweeten coffee, and to make jam, and also a type of spirit.