Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Quinoa: a multi-purpose crop for agricultural diversification

The Andean crop Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) will be introduced to The European Community as a source of a starch, high quality protein and saponin products for industry, and as a contribution to crop diversification and the competitive use of set-aside or marginal lands. Quinoa produces a cereal-like grain, but with a higher protein content and a better balanced amino acid composition than cereals. The starch grains in the endosperm are unusually small (2-4 um diameter), which gives the starch unusual functional properties. These may be of value in fillers for the plastics industry, low-calorie milk-based products, anti-offset and dusting powders and cosmetics. The grain contains saponins, which may also be of industrial value. Quinoa is not a grass, and therefore its cultivation could assist the control of weeds and diseases in areas where cereals are currently continuously cultivated. It is tolerant of drought and infertility. Varieties of Quinoa which have a high grain yield in a range of European conditions and acceptable seed characteristics, and others which have a high green dry matter yield, will be produced.

Although the perspectives look promising, the use of quinoa is still in an experimental stage of development in Europe. However, it should be fairly easy to incorporated it into arable husbandry. At present the yield is fairly low and some varieties contain bitter, potentially deleterious compounds. Hence, both the yield and quality of quinoa needs to be improved by plant breeding and better crop management. Work has been carried out on: taxonomy, origin and distribution, seed properties; development and growth; non-food use.

Reported by

Centre de Valorisation des Glucides et Produits Naturels
7 rue Anne Frank
80136 Rivery
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