Nicoa Market Skyrockets Sales of Tortillas Made by 15 Female Heads of Household

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With the opening of the Nicoa market, the women’s group of La Montañita of San Antonio of Nicoya has been able to take home 45,000 colones (about $85) each by selling corn tortillas, and everything indicates that this income will continue to increase.

These women have been producing tortillas made from traditional corn since 2011, supported by the La Montañita Integral Development Association, to give a source of income to the  families who make up the community, most of whom are mothers who are heads of household.

Vera Chavarria, president of the association, said that initially the tortillas were only distributed within the district in the towns of Corralillo, La Montañita and San Antonio. However, since the opening of the Nicoa Market in early February, sales have increased, reaching the point of producing more than 100 tortillas daily.

To date, the production of tortillas and other traditional foods like tanelas, rosquillas and arroz de maiz benefits 15 women from the community who have found selling tortillas to be an important source of income for the livelihood of their families.

The workday for these women starts at 1 a.m., when they get up to prepare the corn and grind it so the tortillas are fresh and ready for sale at the Nicoa market at 6 a.m.

Each package of tortillas sells for ¢400 (about 75 cents) at the Nicoa Market, their main buyer. The regular price is ¢500 (about 95 cents).

The money earned is divided equally among the group’s members, and Chavarria estimates that each worker receives about ¢45,000 a month from the tortilla sales.

To improve the production and presentation of the products, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Municipality of Nicoya have trained the women in how to label and package the tortillas.

Additionally, the association is setting up a building that meets all of the legal requirements in order to sell their products to the public.

The construction of this place began in September of 2014 and has had the support of the Mixed Institute of Social Assistance (IMAS- Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social), the National Learning Institute (INA-Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje), the Municipality of Nicoya and the Ministry of Labor.

The building is expected to be ready this month, in April.

Association Seeks Industrial Mill

Currently, the tortilla makers from La Montañita grind the corn that they use to prepare their products with the three hand mills that they have available.

However, this process makes tortilla production slower, so the association is looking to buy an industrial mill, which could triple production in less time. The mill costs ¢1,250,000 (about $2,350).

“With an industrial mill, we would solve the problem of grinding the corn by hand and produce greater quantities and we could even benefit three more families from the community,” Chavarria said.

To place your order for tortillas or to assist with the purchase of the mill, you can call 2689-1052.