Crop diversification is key to agricultural productivity because it enables risk management. In the UAE, where soils are nutrient-poor, identification of crops adapted to local environment is especially important. ICBA's Genetic Resources Program has been studying a range of salt-tolerant crops for their ability to produce economic yields, and ultimately to introduce them to local farmers.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) is native to the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It is an annual herb that reaches I-2m height and matures in 5-6 months. It produces white or pink seeds in large sorghum-like clusters. Although the seeds are very small, they comprise 30% of the dry weight of the plant.