Quinoa is a popular Andean grain grown for its small edible seeds. In the past ten years quinoa has skyrocketed in mainstream popularity due to it being a rich and nutritious source of fibre, iron and protein.
Candente Copper is providing financial and educational aid in 9 villages that have no recent history of growing quinoa, but show historical signs of its presence. Fields have been prepared using manual labour and bull-pulled plows, and participants are paid a daily wage and receive a future stake in the seeds produced from harvest for their labour. Candente Copper is supporting this initial demonstration with fertilizers and quinoa seeds of various varieties, and has hired an experienced agronomist and an agriculturalist to oversee the 9 plots of quinoa. By covering all costs, Candente is removing the bulk of the risk that typically accompanies trying out a new crop in an area that has lost the knowledge required to grow it.
With the support of the international NGO Save the Children, quinoa that is produced from these 9 plots will be distributed and supplement three different causes:
The first will be the use of quinoa to supplement the diets of school children in participating villages. Many children in the region suffer from malnutrition due to a diet which is currently dominated by staple crops such as potatoes, corn, and yucca--all of which lack nutritional balance. The addition of quinoa will bring much needed nutritional value to their diets. Save the Children will support this distribution with classes and cultural cooking contests to help teach households and schools how to prepare quinoa for household consumption.
The second use of the quinoa harvest will be saving the seeds. Seeds will be distributed amongst all project participants who have learned how to raise a crop of quinoa on their own. With future success it is anticipated that a producer organization will be established and organic certification obtained.
The third will be marketing the quinoa to future purchasers, and gathering quantifiable information regarding what criteria national buyers are looking for in the product.