The Wageningen UR project 'Salt tolerant Quinoa for food in China, Vietnam and Chile' has received a major prize. The quinoa project is one of the winners of the Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge. The prize is awarded to researcher Robert van Loo during the World Water Week in Stockholm.
In agricultural lands impacted by high salinity, smallholder farmers realized lower-than-average yields and reduced incomes. In these regions, improving food production and creating new opportunities for earning a livelihood are desperately needed.
Researchers at Wageningen UR have come up with a solution, a non-genetically modified, salt-tolerant quinoa that not only grows but also thrives in saline soils.
By making this high-value super grain available to farmers in areas impacted by high salinity, we have the potential to reduce fresh water consumption, reduce food scarcity, reclaim unused or underused agricultural lands, and create new livelihood opportunities for smallholder farmers.
Wageningen UR will provide smallholder farmers with training and information on growing salt-tolerant quinoa, will develop local language guides to growing the crop, provide a stable source to the seeds, and develop a seed production value chain in key regions.
New quinoa cultivars
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.
“Startling, but understandable,” is how the breeder Robert van Loo of Wageningen UR describes the hip status of quinoa. “It is rich in protein and other healthy ingredients and contains less starch than pasta, rice or potatoes. It is also gluten free, which is good for people who are intolerant. Last but not least, quinoa is delicious.” ’