Bolivian Minister Nemesia Achacollo Participates in Event Highlighting Potential of Age-Old and Nutritious Andean Cereal
WASHINGTON, February 20th, 2013 – In the last eight years, around 3,800 Bolivian peasant families have received financing and technical support to farm and market quinoa. Through the Rural Partnerships Project (PAR), the World Bank has supported and financed more than 98 partnerships between small-scale producers and domestic and foreign buyers of this thousand-year old nutritious cereal. Such support has helped increase quinoa sales by 38 percent.
Rural partnerships represent an important response to the development of Bolivia’s agricultural sector, one of the least productive in Latin America, with high levels of poverty. In fact, in 2009 it was found that 72.5 percent of Bolivian farmers lived in moderate poverty while 51.5 percent lived in extreme poverty.
“In the opinion of the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, PAR is a successful project” that has generated growth in the local, regional and national economy, according to the Minister for Rural Development and Land, Nemesia Achacollo. “Its impact on the household economy of small-scale farmers was notorious, increasing their annual income by more than US$2,000.”
Minister Achacollo, along with the World Bank’s Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Hasan Tuluy, will participate in a commemorative event on Friday 22nd for the International Year of the Quinoa at the World Bank headquarters. The event will also feature tasting of quinoa-based products and an exhibition by Bolivian artist Gaston Ugalde.
The International Year of the Quinoa was officially launched today by the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and the First Lady of Peru, Nadine Heredia, at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Along with increasing farmers’ income, PAR has helped improve their production systems, increasing their yields by 14 percent. The partnerships created with market agents, who commercialize quinoa within and especially outside Bolivia, have helped increase quinoa sales by 38 percent.
“This celebration serves to highlight the potential that this product has both for producers as well as consumers,” Tuluy maintained. “By bringing small-scale quinoa farmers in Bolivia closer to other farmers and national and international markets, the World Bank is responding to one of the priorities of the Bolivian government: reducing rural poverty. At the same time, we promote efforts to guarantee the sustainable production of quinoa.”
Called “the Inca’s Wheat,” this ancestral Andean food — it is believed to have been grown 1,500 years before Christ — has an ever expanding presence in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine, as well as other countries around the world.
The cereal is already renowned around the world due to its great nutritional value. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this is the only vegetable food to contain all essential amino acids, vitamins, mineral nutrients, and does not contain any gluten.
“Faced with a global need to identify crops with the potential to produce quality food in a context of ongoing climate change, quinoa is an alternative for those countries suffering from food insecurity to take advantage of this opportunity to grow their own food,” maintains a recent FAO study.
Although up until now quinoa, also known as quinua or kinwa, has been grown mainly in the Andean highlands, this is a highly adaptable plant: it endures temperatures of between -8 °C and 38 °C; it can be planted at up to 4,000 meters of altitude and is resistant to lack of moisture in the soil as it is naturally water-efficient.
The objective is to promote this valuable Andean heritage around the world with two key goals in mind: to combat malnutrition while promoting the development of historically impoverished highland communities.