February 20th marked the beginning of the International Year of Quinoa, a project designed to raise awareness of the benefits of quinoa and its ability to bring nutritional security. The project was launched by the United Nations and the Andean community of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to help reach the Millenium Development Goal of reducing world hunger to a half by 2015.
Quinoa contains essential amino acids and vitamins, yet has no gluten. It is easy to grow because of its adaptability to different environments – thriving in below freezing temperatures, as well as altitudes way above sea level. Thus, cultivating quinoa in areas with arid farming conditions and high malnutrition rates is both a possible and effective way to help combat global poverty and improve the standard of living in many countries. During the project’s launch, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon commented that the International Year of Quinoa will act as “a catalyst for learning about the potential of quinoa for food and nutrition security, for reducing poverty.”
Bringing awareness to the value of quinoa worldwide is beneficial not just to the fight against global hunger and poverty, but to quinoa farmers as well. As the price of quinoa rises due to its increased popularity with large companies, farmers that cultivate quinoa will experience higher incomes.
– Angela Hooks
Photo: NY Times