It’s nutritious, resistant to drought and cold, and is the perfect astronaut food. Wondering what that could be? Quinoa, of course!
Domesticated in the Andes around 3,000 years ago, quinoa was a substantial part of pre-Colombian populations’ diets. Incas considered it a sacred crop and called it the 'mother of all grains'. Quinoa can grow in marginal areas in very harsh conditions, with little need for irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers.
Rediscovered in recent years for its nutritional properties – it has high protein content, a unique amino acid composition and is rich in minerals, fatty acids and vitamins – this crop can contribute to global food security, especially in areas where the population has no access to adequate sources of protein, or where there are environmental constraints to food crop production.
The most up-to-date technical and scientific information on quinoa can now be found in the State of the Art Report on Quinoa around the World, whose English version has been recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).
The book covers topic such as the botanics, domestication and exchanges of quinoa genetic resources; quinoa agronomy and ecology; nutrition and processing; social and economic aspects related to its cultivation.
Three Bioversity International scientists, Stefano Padulosi, Adam Drucker and Adriana Alercia, contributed to the book with a chapter on the importance of quinoa genetic resources and ex situ conservation, and one on how quinoa diversity can be conserved in the Andes through the use of economic incentives such as payments for ecosystem services.
Photo: Quinoa growing in Bolivia. Credit: Bioversity International/S. Padulosi