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West and Central African Countries build capacity in quinoa production and Post-harvest Management

Crop experts from seven countries exchange and learn new crop systems

From right to left: Asante Krobea/Director of Crops, MinistryFood&Agriculture; Bruno Telemans/FAOHorticulture Specialist; Lamourdia Thiombiano/FAO Ghana (FAO Photo)
13 March 2015, Dodowa, Ghana - About 14 research and extension workers from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Niger, Senegal, Chad, Togo and Ghana attended a 5-day workshop at Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region (Ghana), from 9 to 12 march 2015.

The regional training workshop, organized by FAO, focused on crop research and systems that contribute to increasing capacity at country level to develop and support quinoa initiatives. The programme will also assist beneficiary countries to understand the importance and value of Quinoa crop and enhance their knowledge on its production and post-harvest technologies.

The training will enable the experts to gain better understanding about quinoa crop, and enhance their knowledge on the crop and seed production.

Addressing the participants, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of Crops, Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, said in this era when the population has limited access to adequate sources of protein and when there are limitations to food production due to diverse challenges, research has proven that quinoa is one major food plant that contains almost all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins and is also gluten free.

“We are confident the successful implementation of the quinoa project will support our ever- increasing population and its concomitance for more food” the Deputy Minister added.   

More importantly, it is also aimed at deepening participants’ knowledge on quinoa post-harvest management and processing and enhances capacity in designing variety testing trials and the country level programmes in quinoa promotion.

This training workshop follows on the heels of the successful organization of similar training for the East African countries and would form part of the implementation of the project in West Africa and Ghana.

Strengthening the Food System of quinoa

Major constraints to quinoa cultivation are the availability of seeds and most importantly the lack of technical know-how, whereas marketing and utilization of the Quinoa crop as a food crop are challenged by its unfamiliarity.

Some of the topics to be discussed include the nutritional perspective of quinoa crop, designing of country quinoa variety testing trials, improved quinoa production techniques and seed production, and maintenance as well as internet tools to support collaborative practices and a quinoa community of practice.

Dr. Lamourdia Thiombiano, FAO Deputy Regional Representative to Africa and Representative to Ghana, said the demand for quinoa continues to increase and, as a result, the price for the crop is soaring with the recent commodity price of US$ 3,200 per ton in 2013.

“This could create a huge opportunity for African countries, if the risks associated with the production of the crop are well managed”, he added.

At the end of the programme, participants’ understanding of quinoa seed and grain production and post-harvest practices would increase, and they would also have an increased understanding of the nutritional value of quinoa. Their understanding of the draft country quinoa varietal trial design and draft program for promotion of quinoa at country level would also be enhanced.

Quinoa can improve healthy diet

Quinoa is a highly nutritious food crop that can survive in a wide variety of growing conditions. It has high potential to contribute to regional and global food security due to its nutritional characteristics and agronomical versatility.

Quinoa is the only plant food that offers all essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins in a healthy balance and is also gluten free. It can be an important food alternative, especially to populations that have no access to adequate sources of protein.

FAO classified Quinoa as one of humanity’s most promising crops considering it as an alternative to solve the serious problems of human nutrition and declared 2012 as the International Year of Quinoa. 

The International Year of Quinoa, celebrated in 2013, was aimed at raising awareness of how the grain crop  can provide nutrition, increase food security, and help eradicate poverty in the world.

Related links:

www.fao.org/quinoa-2013/iyq/en/

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