The Global Expansion of Quinoa: Trends and Limits
Abstract, Front. Plant Sci. , 2016 May
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) was first domesticated in Andean countries over 7000 years ago. Following the Spanish conquest, quinoa was rejected as “Indian food.” After centuries of neglect, the potential of quinoa was rediscovered during the second half of the 20th century. Since then, the number of countries importing quinoa increased, with new producers appearing on the map and quinoa now being cultivated in areas outside the Andean countries. The geographical increase in distribution of quinoa has highlighted the difficulty of access to quality seed, which is a key factor for testing the crop outside the Andes. In this context, research partnerships have helped promote the exchange of quinoa germplasm and have allowed trials to be undertaken in non-traditional areas of cultivation. The number of countries growing the crop has increased rapidly from eight in 1980, to 40 in 2010, and to 75 in 2014. A further 20 countries have sown quinoa for the first time in 2015. In this paper, we analyze this trend and discuss the limits of quinoa’s expansion. As commercial production of quinoa is expected to develop, changes in international regulatory frameworks on genetic resources are needed in order to facilitate plant breeding for the most adaptive varieties for each region.