Hearing how the first cheese factory was born or developed in our Parish fills us with nostalgia, at the same time an immense satisfaction of having been able to unite people in the midst of poverty and the great aspirations of development and entrepreneurship.
History of El Salinerito and Jose Dubach Cheese
Between José Dubach, a native of Switzerland, and Samuel Ramírez, a native of Salinas de Guaranda, there is something in common so strong that he has been able to beat all differences. The tall one, Aryan, bearded, lover of good wine. The other tall, coppery, hairless and a lover of good chicha. I imagine one offering a glass of liquor with the typical “prost” versus the local “health”. Not that you can defend the idea that they are exact beings. I also imagine seeing them walking through the Andean moors talking about anything. A world novelty, although not an Ecuadorian notoriety, a country that is as diverse as it can be. The cheese. The cheese brought them together. Dubach as a teacher, Ramírez as a student. Together, alongside so many others, allies to defeat poverty on the battlefield. There are duos that mark routes of life. How did Dubach get to these moors? The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (Cosude) had had a very comforting experience in the Andean moorlands of neighboring Peru and tried to identify an area in Ecuador that had similar characteristics. Cosude officials have walked these lands for more than 30 years supporting local partners to try to overcome extreme poverty, environmental problems and promote empowerment and the development of institutional capacities. José Dubach was in charge of the mission that explored an area to apply the knowledge. But, the truth, he did not know anything that promised a possible future. But, well, let's go back a few years. In the community of Salinas de Guaranda, thanks to the support of the Salesian Mission of Italy, an experience had been developed to produce homemade cheese in the community, but this attempt failed because the crossroads of commercialization could not be resolved. “Before we had a cow and we had to sell our milk to a merchant. He bought at the price he wanted. We also started making a quesillo here. When he came, he said 'if you want to buy it if not there'. Our situation was quite difficult before, taken advantage of by the bosses, the owners of all this land, we were their pawns. With the formation of the cooperative we began to wake up ”. Alonso Vargas says it, while doing an exploration exercise in the well of memory. “The first action was the creation of a savings and credit cooperative that freed the villagers from servitude, who in those years worked for a wealthy family. As a result of this cooperative, other initiatives arose and micro-businesses began to be created, ”Antonio Polo told an international media dedicated to agriculture and livestock. The Venetian Father Antonio was already living in Salinas when José Dubach and Samuel Ramírez met. In fact, his pulpit was instrumental in helping parishioners regain confidence in his actions. The Swiss explorer heard data that far away, at the foot of the imposing Chimborazo, there was a postcard town (bahareque houses, thatched roofs, a mountain behind that embraces the hamlet) where some experience had been developed with the cheeses.