Launch of the International Year of Quinoa
Quinoa can play an important role in eradicating hunger, malnutrition and poverty, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at the official launch of the International Year of Quinoa at UN Headquarters. [more]
A future sown thousands of years ago
The value of quinoa lies not only in the grains of its colorful particles, but also in the knowledge accumulated by the Andean peoples, which has made it possible to preserve its many varieties, improve their performance and develop a gastronomy around quinoa.
However, the grain was carefully guarded by these peoples and today it is an invaluable legacy for humanity, due to its unique characteristics: quinoa is the only food that has all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins while being gluten free.
It can grow under the harshest conditions, withstanding temperatures from -8 ° to 38 ° C, anywhere from sea level up to 4000 meters, and is tolerant of drought and poor soils.
From staple to gourmet kitchen
Like the potato, quinoa was one of the main foods of the Andean peoples before the Incas. Traditionally, quinoa grain are roasted and then made to flour, with which different types of breads are baked.
It can also be cooked, added to soups, used as a cereal, made into pasta and even fermented to beer or chicha, the traditional drink of the Andes. When cooked it takes on a nut-like flavor.
Today quinoa also has a key role in the gourmet kitchen, but its use has also been extended to the pharmaceutical and industrial areas.
From America to the world
Almost all the current quinoa production is in the hands of small farmers and associations.
Quinoa can be found natively in all countries of the Andean region, from Colombia to the north of Argentina and the south of Chile. The main producing countries are Bolivia, Peru and the United States. The cultivation of quinoa has transcended continental boundaries: it is being cultivated in France, England, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Italy. In the United States it is being grown in Colorado and Nevada, and in Canada in the fields of Ontario. In Kenya it has shown high yields and in the Himalayas and the plains of northern India, the crop can also develop successfully.
A contribution to global food security
Faced with the challenge of increasing the production of quality food to feed the world's population in the context of climate change, quinoa offers an alternative for those countries suffering from food insecurity.
The United Nations General Assembly has therefore declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa", in recognition of ancestral practices of the Andean people, who have managed to preserve quinoa in its natural state as food for present and future generations, through ancestral practices of living in harmony with nature.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and specifically its Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, will serve as the Secretariat of the International Year of Quinoa, assisting the International Committee to coordinate the celebrations. Bolivia has the presidency of the Committee, while Ecuador, Peru and Chile share the vice presidency, with the rapporteurship in the hands of Argentina and France.