The end of a journey, the beginning of a legacy - Assessing the 2013 International Year of Quinoa
The report on the overall results of the IYQ and FAO's role in facilitating the Year was presented at the FAO Council last week.
FAO was entrusted by the UN with the Technical Secretariat to facilitate the implementation of the IYQ. The FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, supported by the Office of Corporate Communication in Rome (OCC) took leading roles.
The establishment of an International Coordination Committee as well as multiple National Committees and participation of Mr Evo Morales (President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia) and Ms Nadine Heredia de Humala (First Lady of Peru) as Special Ambassadors, greatly facilitated the implementation of the year.
QUINOA- A STRATEGIC ALLY IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER AND FOOD INSECURITY
The International Year of Quinoa's main aim was to focus world attention on this forgotten crop and its role in the achievement of food security and eradication of hunger in support of reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Quinoa's excellent nutritional qualities were underlined throughout the year as well as its adaptability to diverse climactic conditions and soils, its contribution to sustainability and biodiversity, and its cultural value.
The International Year promoted South-South Cooperation and an exchange of knowledge and experiences around the world thanks to the partnerships and collaboration between UN Organizations, producer associations, research institutions and the private and academic sector.
KEY OUTCOMES AND RESULTS OF THE IYQ
According to the report, from the information and communication point of view, key outcomes included the IYQ website which was translated in the six FAO official languages and updated regularly with technical and general information; the travelling exhibition "From the Andes to the World"; the creation and dissemination of a wide range of promotional material, as well as tasting events held around the world.
Results in the research, technology and marketing fields included the creation of a new variety of quinoa, INIA 433 - Santa Ana/AIQ/FAO, named in honour of the IYQ and particularly resilient to mildew and drought, as well as numerous seminars, symposiums and congresses held around the globe on specific scientific aspects.
Additionally, the technical Secretariat worked on a series of publications and scientific material, in collaboration with Bioversity international, CIRAD in France, ALADI in Uruguay and PROINPA in Bolivia, among others.
FAO continues to provide technical support to projects in several countries in Africa, Asia and the Near East, to pilot the introduction of quinoa.
A RESOUNDING SUCCESS
Delegates from around the world expressed their gratitude and congratulated those involved for such a successful year. The general consensus was that the year had achieved greater visibility for quinoa and provided technical and scientific information on the crop which resulted in a higher production and consumption of quinoa throughout the world. Various countries including Togo, (speaking on behalf of the Africa group), Iraq and Lithuania told the Council that quinoa was growing successfully in their countries and regions.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE- CHALLENGES AND OPPORUNITIES
The numerous activities and initiatives that took place throughout 2013 pushed this forgotten crop and its enormous potential into the limelight. However, the challenges ahead are also addressed in the report. These comprise the promotion of public and social inclusion policies. Research networks should continue sharing information in multiple languages and national and international instruments for the protection, sustainable use of, and sharing of germplasm and seeds of quinoa must also be created and implemented.
The IYQ is only the first step in an on-going process to focus and maintain world attention on the significant role that quinoa can play in the eradication of hunger.
FAO will continue promoting quinoa through the IYQ website which will be updated regularly, through broad distribution of key publications produced in 2013 and 2014 and above all, by working directly with and supporting countries through specific projects involving quinoa (Technical Cooperation Programme). Solid foundations are now in place for this success to continue into 2014, in the context of the International Year of Family Farming, and beyond.