There is an increasing worldwide interest in the ‘superfood’ quinoa, a crop currently mainly grown in Bolivia and the Peruvian Andes. Since 1990 Wageningen scientists are working on the development of new quinoa cultivars suitable for cultivation in Europa. Scientists are investigating how quinoa can best be grown while the composition of quinoa is studied to find out whether the gluten-free quinoa contains valuable constituents such as proteins.
The quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) plant is endemic to South America. It has for ages been used for baking bread or for preparing porridge. The plant can reach a height of one to three metres and the growth cycle lasts 120 to 160 days. Quinoa can grow in the cold, dry highlands of South America and gives a high yield without requiring intensive soil tillage. Quinoa can withstand night frost and will grow on a very poor soil.