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