Quinoa prices and exports from Bolivia skyrocketed during the 2008-2014 “quinoa boom,” incentivizing farmers to intensify production and causing considerable damage to the fragile ecosystems of the highlands. Although income generated through quinoa sales enabled farmers to improve their living conditions (food security, education, health), it also led to desertification and reduced productivity in some areas. While high demand for quinoa remains, increased production in other parts of the world has caused global prices to fall from $5.71/ kilo to $0.85/kilo. Another development over the past two years is the modification of organic standards for quinoa (most of Bolivian quinoa is certified organic) to stipulate the need for soil health management. Thus, a demand has arisen for more sustainable ways to grow quinoa.The previous phase of the Quinoa project focused on the development of technologies for soil management based on native species. These strategies reduce effects of wind erosion and improve soil health. The project has also developed mechanisms to collect information on production problems through farmers’ group monitoring, as well as participatory research strategies to support innovation among farmers. The present project seeks to build on the findings of the previous phase and to deepen research on agroecological alternatives for the management of soils, pests, and cropping systems to contribute to sustainable production of quinoa in Bolivia.
Objective 1. Identify, validate, and disseminate practices and strategies for soil management and agroecosystem design for quinoa production systems.Outputs:Description of native species that contribute to the design of sustainable quinoa production ecosystems, and which can be adapted to massive multiplication processes.Description of different types of soil amendment technologies that can contribute to the increase of soil water retention capacity in the southern highlands of Bolivia.Outcomes:Farmers from the southern highlands of Bolivia use native species and soil amendment technologies to foster sustainability in their production systems.Objective 2. Identify strategies for integrated pest management for quinoa production systems in the southern and central highlands of BoliviaOutputs:Description of the behavior of the quinoa moth in relation to temperature variations and climatic factors.Identification of native species with potential to support pest natural enemy populations.Outcomes:Farmers from the southern and central highlands of Bolivia access and use early alert information to manage pest attacks.Farmers from the southern and central highlands of Bolivia incorporate native species in the design of their production systems as an agroecological alternative for pest management through natural enemies.Objective 3. Identify potential traits in quinoa to improve the design of sustainable production systems (perennial traits, drought tolerance, wind abrasion, and grain shedding)Outputs:Description of the heritability of the perenniality trait of quinoa and its association with climatic factors.Identification of native varieties and ecotypes of quinoa with potential traits for tolerance to drought, wind abrasion, and grain shattering.Outcomes:Quinoa breeders use identified native varieties.Contribute to the design of long-term production systems based on quinoa.Objective 4. Implement participatory innovation strategies that expand the use of new technologies for the sustainable management of quinoa production systems.Outputs:Establishment of a FRN of over 150 farmers with quinoa producers from the highlands of Bolivia.Development of spaces and strategies to share information on technological innovations for quinoa production for different types of farmers (Yapuchiris and base farmers), organizations (associations), and geographic regions.Outcomes:Quinoa producing farmers outside the FRN are sharing and using new agroecological alternatives.