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Quinoa, amaranth and cañahua are highly nutritious grains that are able to survive through harsh growing conditions such as strong winds and drought. Important for the food security and livelihood of many farmers in the Andes, these grains have been displaced by cereal crops, such as wheat and maize, which are grown for global markets.

Bioversity International's research approach

Bioversity International has worked to develop the value chain of these important crops to enhance their contribution to the livelihoods of the rural poor and to strengthen the conservation of the grains’ genetic diversity. Using a holistic approach, activities were carried out at multiple levels in order to encourage greater cultivation, use and conservation of the crops. Impact assessment revealed a positive effect as a result of the project, with benefits shown to Andean grain production, conservation and income.


  • Release of improved varieties of quinoa, cañahua and amaranth;
  • Improved cultivation practices for Andean grains were developed, and farmers were trained on these practices;
  • Prototype threshing machines that decreased threshing time were developed and given to communities;
  • A de-saponification machine was developed in close consultation with communities that decreased drudgery and processing time, particularly for women;
  • Novel food recipes for specific ecotypes were developed with the support of professional chefs;
  • Production of novel food items using Andean grains, including amaranth energy bars;
  • Inclusion of amaranth energy bars in school feeding programs in Sucre and Serrano, Bolivia generated economic benefits for value chain actors and nutritional benefits for children;
  • Raising awareness and demand through promotional campaigns, diversity fairs, and dissemination of recipe books featuring traditional recipes (e.g. for amaranth, all Andean grains);
  • Through a multi-stakeholder platform, food safety regulations covering the commercialization of Andean grains were developed that facilitate access of Andean grain products to international markets.


This work was carried out in collaboration with PROINPA (Bolivia), CIRNMA (Peru) and INIAP (Ecuador), with the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Alianza Cambio Andino, the European Commission, and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutes and Markets.

Impact brief

Andean ‘lost grains’ in Bolivia and Peru is an analysis of the impact of more than ten years work on Andean Grains by Bioversity International and partners.

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