Fique is a plant fiber, extracted from the leaves of a plant belonging to the Furcraea cabuya and F. Macrophylla families. These are cultivated in the Andine zone, mainly in Antioquia, Boyacá, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Nariño and Santander.

Commun names: Furcraea cabuya: cabuya, cabuya hembra, fique, fique cenizo (en todo el país); cocuiza (Arauca); fique americano (Guajira); fique canalito, fique de castilla (Norte de Santander); fique criollo (Guajira, Norte de Santander), fi que de castilla, fique espada, fi que hembrita, fique liso, fique puntelanza, fique ratón (Boyacá); fique espinoso (Boyacá, Nariño); fique pelón (Norte de Santander); maguey, penca (Nariño); penca de fique (Cesar, Cundinamarca). Furcraea macrophylla: cabuya, fique (Boyacá, Cundinamarca); cabuya hembra, cabuya sin espinas (Cundinamarca); fique macho, jardineña, perulero, uña de águila.

The indigenous that lived in the country and settled along the Andes, used fique fiber since very ancient times, as evidenced by backpacks,  ropes and fabrics found in burial deposits, similar in design and shape to those currently used by the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta or those made in various locations in Colombia.

Later, this fiber became more important since it was use to make, in a rudimentary way, the "bags", elements still in great demand today, to storage potatoes, rice, wheat, corn and coffee, among many other agricultural products.

The increase of coffee exports has had an impact on the demand for fique packaging. Since then, coffee and its packaging par excellence, the bag, have been inextricably linked as historical companions, strategic allies in agriculture and Colombia's ambassadors around the world.

Fique is used and managed mainly by the poor peasants, and in general the artisanal activity is developed by the women, who frequently suspend the activity to devote themselves to domestic or rural obligations, although there is also an appreciable percentage of men who work with this fiber. The family actively participates in the trade. Girls learn the trade by observing their mothers and the mothers intervene to reinforce or point out procedures to improve the technique.

We observe that rudimentary manual instruments continue to be used without a technical and industrial development, not having the support by the country to this important line of the economy, dominated by poor Colombians, who see their incomes decrease due to competition, synthetic fibers and the importation or cultivation of exotic fibers, such as jute.

The Fique has several medicinal uses. The leaves (the juice or the macerated leaves) are used to treat inflammation and eliminate lice in animals, and the roots used in infusion are considered to be purifying.

From the fermented juice of semi-ripe leaves, the liquor called "tapetuza de fique" is obtained. In some fields, the juice is used to bleach clothes. The stem or peduncle of the inflorescence is used in house construction and for making stairs. The residues ("jucha") are used in agriculture as a fertilizer. Bulbs, after a long decoction to remove mucilaginous substances, are used to prepare pickles rich with oil, salt and vinegar. In addition, the fiber cloth is used as a natural blanket to protect crops and as an agrotextile to reduce erosion damage on roads, oil and gas pipelines (Rubiano 1986).

According to the fiquera environmental guide (MAVDT et al. 2006), in Colombia there are about 23,000 ha of fiquera, on which about 70,000 families depend economically.  Currently in Colombia, fique is considered the second most important fiber after cotton.

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