FAO celebrates quinoa’s legacy with Peru and Bolivia during World Food Week

A symbolic harvest and panel discussion on the Andean "super food" highlight the importance of quinoa and other underutilized crops in the fight against hunger

17 October, 2013, Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, Peru’s First Lady and Special Ambassador for the International Year of Quinoa, Nadine Heredia , and Bolivian Minister of Rural Development and Lands, Nemecia Achacollo have participated today in a symbolic quinoa harvest in FAO headquarters. The harvest was by hand, as has been done for centuries in the Andean region.

The harvest was the first of a series of events organized by FAO to highlight the importance of quinoa and other underutilized grains and crops in the fight against hunger as part of the International Year of Quinoa. “This year, quinoa became our new ally against hunger,” said Graziano da Silva.

At the beginning of a panel discussion on quinoa, the FAO Director-General also pointed to the numerous achievements made over these last months, and he thanked the two Andean countries for the support for numerous activities carried out across the globe. “We’ve done everything with the conviction that quinoa and other underutilized grains and crops can take on a fundamental role in eradicating hunger and promoting healthier diets,” Graziano da Silva said.

“In Peru, we are proud to be the cradle of this ancient grain and one of the world’s major producers. We think it’s important to revive ancestral knowledge and practices,“ said the Peruvian First Lady during the harvest. To this end, Nadine Heredia affirmed that the celebration of the International Year of Quinoa served to not only as a springboard for greater awareness about the crop, but also to draw attention to the work of farmers and to salvage other grains and andean agricultural technologies.

Nadine Heredia, during her speech as a main participant in yesterday’s World Food Day yesterday ceremony, also said that she will continue to promote “this tiny multicolor grain during the International Year of Family Farming in 2014.”

Quinoa in the world: experiences and potential

Today FAO also hosted a conference entitled “Quinoa in the world: experiences and potential,” an event that had the dual objective of highlighting the joint work being carried out by FAO and the Bolivian government to ensure that quinoa is produced in a sustainable manner and to demonstrate its potential for development in Europe.

During the conference, Bolivian Minister Achacollo, who is in Rome with a delegation of quinoa farmers, thanked the FAO for its support and backing of the country’s proposal for an International Year dedicated to quinoa. Achacollo specifically noted the the role of Graziano da Silva while he was head of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean: “with few resources, we dared to do it,” she said.

“For us, this International Year doesn’t end here. It starts here. It’s essential to continue this work during the International Year of Family Farming,” Achacolla said during her speech. “Bolivians are the keepers of a healthy and durable product, maintained for thousands of years, and we would like to share it with the world.”

Other participants included: a Bolivian farmer, who said he appreciated the value currently being accorded to quinoa in naming it ‘the golden grain’; an FAO expert, who described the progress made thanks to FAO technical assistance; and Italian experts, who shared their experience in producing quinoa in Italy. In addition, a representative of Expo Milan 2015 explained the arrangement that will be made to showcase quinoa during the fair.

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
The Director-General, the First Lady of Peru and the Bolivian Minister during the harvest