COSTA RICA NEWS, By Wilberth Villalobos Castrillo , Voz de Guanacaste – Among aromas of tamal asado, rosquillas and fresh coffee and to the sound of the marimba, the new Nicoa Market opened its doors to the public on Friday, February 6.
The facility thus became the new center of operations for more than 50 local producers in the canton who sell their quality, locally-produced wares at reasonable prices.
Among the improvements made to the building are the bathrooms, large stalls of varnished wood, tile floors, a soda and upgrades to the lighting and ventilation, among others.
The project cost ₵73 million ($135,500), with funds provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG – Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia), an entity that also trained local producers in packing and labelling their products, customer service and human relations, according to Juan Pablo Muñoz Fonseca, the A.I. director of the MAG office in Nicoya.
“The new part of the market is that now crafts from San Vicente are sold, and we improved the products and the quality of providers. Packaging, labeling and their quality has been improved,” explained Muñoz.
Maria Virginia Garcia, a resident of San Martin, said that what people look for most are the tortillas, cuajadas (fresh dry cheese) and chicheme (a drink based on purple corn), though the atol (a pudding based on purple corn) and tamal asado (a corn-based, harder pudding that is baked) sell very well. And now with the new facility, she hopes that buyers come more often.
“We feel good because we are in a new place that is better-equipped. I am happy. When I make chicheme I go to bed at twelve midnight making it and I wake up at three in the morning to pack it. In my family, the four of us live off of what I take [to market],” she explained.
Another of the new market’s novelties is the arrival of bean producers from the high areas of Nicoya. Valerio Diaz, who has produced beans for more than 20 years in the Juan Diaz area, believes his work is “a privilege” and he now feels happy to be able to have a space to spread the word about his product.
“For us, selling these products is a privilege. We feel pleased with MAG and the institutions that are helping us to be able to go to Nicoya to sell our products, which are very important for my family, and so we can earn money in an honest way,” he said.
The varieties of beans offered by producers from Juan Diaz, Coals de Gallo and Oriente include the madrileño, gandul (which is similar to the lentil), red beans (Chirripo), black and butter beans. In addition, producers sell white corn, native corn, and two varieties purple corn – pink and congo (which is darker). Prices are from 1,000 colones ($1.85) to 1,500 ($2.75).
Previously, this popular farmers’ market was known as “Las Guayabitas.” However, with the remodeling it is called Mercado Nicoa with the goal of highlighting the city’s Chorotega legacy.
Adriana Rodriguez, vice mayor of Nicoya, stated that hopes for the market’s opening have been met:
“We have had a good consensus among producers and customers. Everyone likes the place and what we want to do is improve the presentation and quality of the products. We want to invite all Nicoyas and tourists to visit us,” she said.
The Nicoa market is open every day from Monday to Saturday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. During the high season, it will also be open on Sundays. It is located next to the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG – Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería), in the center of the colonial city.