SURGING global popularity of the ‘superfood’ quinoa has put the plant front and centre of new research by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) as part of the Corporations New and Emerging Industries R&D program.
In response to the growing interest in quinoa, RIRDC funded research has explored opportunities and challenges related to quinoa production and marketing systems across the country to better inform growers of the crop’s potential.
New resources have been developed to share insight into the suitability of quinoa to Australian cropping systems.
Yield variability and developing the supply chain are the important challenges the new industry needs to address.
RIRDC New and Emerging Industries program manager, Duncan Farquhar, said quinoa was an exciting example of a rural industry that had potential to make a strong economic contribution to Australian agriculture.
“RIRDC’s New and Emerging Industries R&D program is focused on identifying new food types and expanding new markets,” Mr Farquhar said.
“Quinoa is a new and exciting food ingredient. Growing consumer interest in the superfood trend makes it an ideal time to pursue development of the quinoa industry in Australia.”
Mr Farquhar said quinoa could be grown across a wide geographical range so it was an important opportunity for Australian farmers.
“Demand for quinoa continues to grow, with Australians consuming more quinoa as processors work out how to use the South American staple,” Mr Farquhar said.
“Establishing a successful quinoa market in Australia involves identifying the best lines to grow and best management practices, along with growing consumer interest in the grain.”
With prices for quinoa dropping, the superfood is becoming competitive with wheat and other conventional carbohydrate ingredients.
The versatility and genetic diversity of quinoa makes it an appealing crop for farmers.
Its notable characteristics include its tolerance to adverse environmental conditions, including salinity, frost and drought.
It is adaptable to a range of environments and its short growing season offers benefits to crop rotations.
The book ‘Quinoa – Opportunities and Challenges in Australia’ and associated fact sheet is available for download via the RIRDC website: https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/16-078
They have been designed as a reference for farmers and processors.