Grown by the ancient civilizations of the Andes, grains such as quinoa, cañihua and amaranth have been staple crops for communities across Bolivia and Peru for over a millennia. Agricultural practices have changed dramatically over the last decade, and poor rural farmers are cultivating these traditional varieties less due to their poor economic competitiveness with global cereal crops, lack of improved varieties, arduous cultivation practices, difficulty of processing, lack of access to market chains and the negative image often associated with Andean grains as ‘food for the poor’. More recently, less nutritious, convenience foods—made of wheat, rice and maize—have rapidly replaced these ancient grains. To reverse the trend of these ‘neglected and underutilized species’ (NUS), falling into disuse, a global effort commenced in 2001 coordinated by Bioversity International.
This publication is part of the Bioversity International’s series of Impact Assessment Briefs that aim to inform readers about the major results of evaluations carried out by the centre. The Briefs summarize conclusions and methods of more formal papers published in peer-reviewed journals.