FAO in Lebanon

Quinoa Crop Enters the Lebanese Agricultural System after Two Years of Trials

Quinoa Field in Tal Amara - Bekaa. ©FAO / Antoun Maacaroun

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) organized in Tal Aamara in Bekaa a workshop titled “Quinoa Field Day” on Wednesday 8 June 2016. The workshop was attended by the FAO representative in Lebanon, Dr. Maurice Saade, the Director General of LARI, Dr. Michael Afram, the FAO and LARI technical teams and a crowd of farmers from the region.

In addition to showcasing the results, outcomes and conclusions of the quinoa trials, demonstrations plots and socio-cultural studies that were conducted over the past two years, the workshop included a live demonstration of the newly imported machines from Peru, and the first of their kind in Lebanon, which will facilitate the removal of saponin and the cultivation of quinoa seeds to become a viable crop for consumption.

At the request of the Ministries of Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has assisted regional countries to assess the potential for introduction, production and adaptation of Quinoa, develop national and regional capacities and provide basis for the integration of Quinoa in the farming systems over the past two years.

Within this project, seeds of 19 different varieties of quinoa were provided to LARI and tested for their suitability to various agro-ecological zones (Tyre, Tal Amara, and Kfardane) during different sowing dates using different irrigation methods, fertilization levels and agricultural practices.

"The trials conducted by the FAO and LARI proved that it is possible for Quinoa to be adopted as an alternative crop in Lebanon, but this is only the result of a single project," says Ms. Mary-Louise Hayek, the project coordinator at the FAO in Lebanon, "at this stage, we need more funding to obtain more seeds and machinery and to strengthen the skills of the technical staff in order to properly train the farmers on the cultivation of this crop in Lebanon and make it available in the local market. "

Quinoa has been a successful crop for all the regional countries particularly for Lebanon and Egypt.  Marketing of quinoa is quite developed both in Lebanon & Egypt, with a significant number of importers involved in Quinoa trading, restaurants and local businesses using quinoa in their day to day operations, as well as a very wide variety of finished quinoa products are available on supermarket shelves.

Quinoa, a nutritious cereal crop for millions of people throughout the Andes, could also play an important role in eradicating hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the Near East and North Africa region. Quinoa is the only plant food that has all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins with broader ability to adapt to different ecological environments and climates. With exceptional resistance to drought, poor soils and high salinity, it can successfully be grown from sea level to an altitude of four thousand meters and withstands temperatures between -8 and 38 degrees Celsius.