I visited Nuffield Scholar Rens Kuitjen in the
Rens study topic is “Establishing a Quinoa industry in the Netherlands”
Quinoa (pronounced Kinwa) is a broadleaf crop that is in the Chenopod (Goosefoot) family and has been grown as a food source in
South America since the time of the Incas. It is
extremely high in protein and is gluten free. These attributes are increasingly
making it a sought after food in Western countries. Rens has traveled to Bolivia, which is the hub of research into this
crop, and to Canada
where it is also now grown. The United Nations have actually proclaimed this as
the Year of Quinoa.
My interest was sparked in Quinoa because of the extremely harsh low rainfall climates that some of the varieties are capable of growing in. Rens had pictures of Quinoa crops that were growing on the shores of salt lakes at 4000m elevation. The look of the countryside reminded me of the landscape around
Ayre in South Australia. Growing at that altitude it
is also extremely frost tolerant. Currently Bolivian farmers are selling the
cleaned and washed product for $2400/t into the US market.