Special feature Venezuela: The Conuco
The Makiritare practice a migrating agriculture and also hunt and fish. The "Conuco" is the name given to the plot of cultivated land found in the jungle surrounded by the primary forest. This plot of land has to be relatively small, around one hectare, and surrounded by forest in order to maintain a low temperature that will delay the bio-chemical proliferation process of germs and will activate the disappearance of mushrooms. The presence of trees on the plot contributes to maintain low temperatures and delay erosion. The "fields" are no longer what they used to be: clean and tidy. Here, it is a real battlefield where the trees have been cut down and burnt to fertilise the land and left as such. This is the men's task, the seedling and harvest of the Yucca, celestial root and source of life according to Makiritarean mythology, can only be performed by the women, as they are the only carriers of life. Meanwhile, the young boys look after the younger kids. A harvest is possible approximately every 7 months. Once the roots are extracted from the ground, the branches are cut and replanted. Thus, the plant regenerates and a new production begins. These plots can be exploited over three years. During harvest, it is the women and their children that go to the "Conuco" by boat to harvest the precious Yucca root (or cassava root), the basic ingredient of Makiritare food.
Caura El Rio Negro