Quinoa cultivation encouraged for use in marginal environments & to diversify agricultural production systems
The Ministry of Environment and Water organized ‘Quinoa Open Day’ at Agriculture Innovation Center (AIC) (Tuesday 14, 2015) in the Agriculture Innovation Center, Al Dhaid, Sharjah. The event was attended by the Consul of the Republic of Peru, H.E. Carlos Tegara, and was organized in cooperation with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, United Arab Emirates University, Food Security Centre – Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Farmer’s Services Center, and private sector companies interested in the production of feeds and seeds, poultry and cattle.
‘Quinoa Open Day’ aims to highlight the importance of quinoa, a leading agricultural crop that is now attracting significant international interest as a major contributor to global food security. Quinoa is becoming a strong competitor of wheat products because it is rich in protein and other crucial nutrients. A healthy food that transcends the grains in nutritional value, quinoa contains more protein than rice and wheat with ingredients that include amino acids, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid and acid Omega 3.
The event is part of the ministry’s commitment to encourage quinoa cultivation in the country in order to diversify agricultural production systems. This is especially important as quinoa represents a strategic alternative that can be used in marginal environments and is an important candidate for the sustainability of agricultural productivity and enhancing food security, which is a priority under the UAE Vision 2021 national agenda.
H.E. Eng. Saif Al-Shara’, Assistant Undersecretary for Agricultural and Livestock Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Water, welcomed all participants and emphasized the fact that the UAE has realized early on the importance of quinoa in supporting efforts to achieve food security, and has conducted a series of preliminary experiments in its research centers to study the possibility of using the crop as an alternative for marginal environments. This is in line with efforts to reinforce the importance of using applied studies and research in promoting development within global environmental variables.
Al-Shara’ added that the ministry organized the Quinoa Open Day as part of its vision to establish a sustainable environment. It was also done in part to implement the organization’s strategic objectives of sustainable local production and the enhancement of food and water security by creating awareness on the importance of this particular agricultural crop and its nutritional value. The experiments showed how quinoa has been successfully cultivated in the state due to its ability to tolerate high levels of salinity and its capacity to grow in nutrient-poor soil types such as sand and in dry environments with rainfall of less than 200 mm. This particular crop also thrives on the drip irrigation technique crucial to water conservation.
Al-Shara’ emphasized that the experiment’s positive results further drove the ministry’s efforts to distribute quinoa in local farms for its easy cultivation and to propagate it under the country’s climatic conditions and in nutrient-poor soil. This is intended to start agricultural production in large quantities in order to meet local market needs. The ministry, through the extension programs provided by the engineers and agricultural extension workers, is currently working on cultivating quinoa within agricultural crops and training the farmers on how to produce it. Three farms have been selected to be a base for quinoa, and are pioneers in the ministry’s efforts to spread the cultivation of quinoa among the state’s farmers.
He explained that the project puts the spotlight on spreading the best agricultural practices for increasing production among local farmers and determining the extent to which quinoa will adapt to the production and its usage systems. The project was also implemented to determine the tolerability of quinoa to various levels of salinity and temperature shifts, as well as to evaluate the impact of these factors on growth, productivity and nutritional value levels.
The agenda also included an educational discussion on the importance of quinoa, its nutritional value, quinoa recipes and particular cultivation methods. There was also another session about the importance of using quinoa as feeds.
H.E. Carlos Tegara, Consul of the Republic of Peru added that the efforts of the UAE to increase production in the harsh conditions in terms of soil and water will promote awareness on the importance of the Quinoa crop, noting the ministry’s launch of projects to evaluate and develop the cultivation of quinoa crop as an alternative crop for the marginal environments, this reflects the ministry’s attention towards applying innovative solutions for the agricultural development considering the climatic conditions and the available natural resources.
that the efforts He added that the ministry is launching the quinoa evaluation and development project to present the grain crop as an alternative for marginal environments. He also said the ministry wishes to demonstrate its concern in the development of innovative solutions for agricultural production based on available natural resources and climatic conditions. At the end of his speech Consul of the Republic of Peru also praised the research conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Water and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture.
The experiments conducted at the ministry’s agricultural research centers showed the successful cultivation of four out of eight quinoa varieties planted using three agricultural processes: irrigation, fertilization, and prevention. Some quinoa varieties achieved high levels of productivity and yielded 4.5 ton/ha, nearing international levels and proving its suitability for local climatic and soil conditions. The planting of quinoa crops is expected to increase the cultivated the centers to six (6) acres in the current agricultural season.