Quinoa
Field Crops in South Africa

© Marinda Louw
Quinoa cooking. Note the 'tails' indicating that the quinoa is cooked.

Quinoa (‘keen-wah’) is a gluten-free ‘pseudo-grain’ native to the Andes Mountain regions of South America where it grows and flourishes in inhospitable climates of extreme cold and arid soil conditions.

In South Africa, quinoa research and development is overseen by the NuGrain Consortium which consists of industry, academic, government and private institutions. Being a cold-weather crop, research focuses on the development of quinoa types suitable to South Africa’s hot climate which will also produce consistent yields.

Due to its drought-resistance and high nutritional value (it contains all nine essential amino acids) it has the potential to diversify South Africa’s crop base and lessen the dependence on the currently small number of staple crops.

By Marinda Louw

How to Grow Quinoa

Quinoa grows from sea level to elevations as high as 4 000m in its native countries and can tolerate a wide variety of soil types and survive in a pH range from 4,5 to 8,5. Survival, however, does not mean the crop will yield commercially optimal yields....more

Quinoa Production

Quinoa production rapidly increased especially in countries where it was most recently introduced, such as China where quinoa is mostly produced for local consumption....more

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is also classified as a ‘pseudo-grain’ because technically it is not a grain such as the types normally harvested from plants in the grass family (e.g. rice and wheat)....more