Meeting the food requirements of a growing world population is a global challenge; especially with the ongoing climate changes. The food security of 800 million people living in dry lands is at risk; especially in Central West Asia and North Africa (CWANA), which is home to over 50% of the world’s dryland population.
CWANA region also suffers from high dependence on food imports; high poverty rates; high malnutrition; low productivity agriculture; high rate of soil salinization; and marginal water resources; as well as, a fast growing population.
In response to these challenges, CWANA region requires stress-tolerant alternative nutritious crops that can grow in these marginal environments. One such promising crop is: Quinoa!
Quinoa, which originated in South America, is highly nutritious, climate resilient, and water-use efficient.
As a matter of fact, the United Nations Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) identified Quinoa as one of the most promising crops for future food and nutritional security, and declared 2013 as the year of Quinoa. The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has been working, since 2006, to identify high yielding and nutritional quinoa varieties that prosper in saline soils and water, which characterize dry and marginal lands. Through consecutive seed selection and multiplication, ICBA developed four varieties that were successfully piloted in United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan; with yields as high as 5 tons/hectare in field trials. These varieties are ready for wide-scale testing and transitioning to scale in countries across Central West Asia and North Africa. There are more than 3000 quinoa ecotypes and their potential and nutritional value needs to be explored.
ICBA is committed to continue its mission of screening Quinoa ecotypes to identify the varieties that are adaptable to the desert conditions of marginal environments and assure seed multiplication and getting them to farmers and markets and integrating them in local food diets. Our chase will go on to ensure the food and nutritional security of those most at risk.