Thursday, 25 December 2014

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The year of the golden grain

QuinoaQuinoa, also called “golden grain of the Incas’, silently but steadily has been gnawing in the competitive international market, not only for its high nutritional value, but also for its endless applications in the gourmet kitchen.The undisputed queen of the Peruvian Andes will finally have the seat it deserves as the United Nations has declared 2013 as the ‘International Year of Quinoa’,to highlight the virtues of one of the products of our rich biodiversity that most captures the attention of foreign buyers, especially from Japan, Sweden, France, USA, Germany and Canada.

The grain has always been a staple in Andean meals, and it recently became a popular choice on plates worldwide. As part of the International Year of Quinoa, food security, agriculture, and nutrition experts want to work together to make sure traditional growers can keep up with rising demand, and that the crop can continue to feed millions even as a rising population and growing food shortages make eradicating hunger a formidable challenge.

One of the things that makes quinoa a “super food” is its resilience and variety. There are more than 1,800 different types of quinoa that can be grown under a variety of sometimes harsh conditions. In an environment where climate change and natural disasters are threatening many traditional types of agriculture, heartiness is a much-desired quality in any crop.

The nutrient composition of quinoa is very good compared with common cereals. Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.

After harvest, the grains need to be processed to remove the coating containing the bitter-tasting saponins. Quinoa grains are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

The International Year of the Quinoa (IYQ) was proposed by the government of Bolivia, with support from several South-American states and FAO, and approved by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011. The Conference took note of the exceptional nutritional qualities of quinoa, its adaptability to different agro-ecological floors and its potential contribution in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

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