Quinoa sustainability

Lead Organization:

Centro de Investigacion de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente

Community of Practice:

Andes

Countries:

Bolivia

Duration:

2/2010—2/2012

Overview:

The international demand for quinoa has grown quickly in the last three years so that the price for both organic and conventional quinoa has doubled and farm family income has increased. CIRNMA has been an important institution for the farmers around Puno by helping them organize into producer groups, increase their organic yields considerable and access markets. This project originates from CIRNMA’s own concerns about their success in promoting organic quinoa production in that it has possibly resulted in intensification of quinoa rotations that result in soil infertility and an increase in quinoa pest and diseases, as well as diversion of most quinoa produced into markets rather than as staple food for farm families, and possibly contributing to poorer nutritional outcomes. A similar phenomenon has been documented in Southern Bolivia and this project proposes to study these aspects as well as generate interventions to curb the negative effects.

The project will look at quinoa rotations among a large sample of farmers over the past 4-5 years to determine specific rotation patterns. They will then assess the impact of various rotations on soil, pest and nutrition outcomes.Specifically the project will use the farmer records they have as part of the Internal System of Control for Organic Certification that have extensive information on rotations and other information for farmers’ plots. They will then couple this information with soil, pest and nutrition monitoring data. Finally, they will triangulate and reflect on these findings with the farmers themselves to come up with next steps.

Grant Aims:

  • To generate knowledge on the consequences of crop intensification.
  • To strengthen knowledge of the producers on the management of family production systems.
  • Strengthen the local (farmers, thesis, technicians) capacities and materials of public diffusion.

Outputs and Outcomes:

  • Constructed database to analyze secondary information on crop rotations
  • Database analysis has shown that 25% of farmers have shifted from traditional to intensified rotations over the past three years.
  • Preliminary results show that plots with intensified crop rotations have low population density of quinoa plants and high presence of weeds. Weeds cause more predators.
  • Families with traditional rotations show higher consumption of protein and fats.