25 January 2011

Climate change affects quinoa production

There is very sad and worrying news coming out of Bolivia this week.  According to the "La Quinua" blog, the rains haven't come soon enough for the already planted quinoa in Bolivia and there are estimates the eighty per cent of the crop will be lost this year.  Quinoa is typically planted in August, September before the rains later in the year, planting is done according to local knowledge which tells the producer when to plant and when to expect the summer rains.  Climate change (regardless of the cause) has drastically changed the precipitation amounts and timing and has thereby thrown off the timing of planting.  The last two years have been poor ones for production for the same reason, and this year is expected be similar.

50,000 families farm quinoa in Bolivia and the majority of that number can be expected to depend on the production for sale, consumption, or both.  The lack of production will most likely result in both reduced food security and market profit, but may also affect the reputation of Bolivian suppliers and their ability to supply Northern consumers.  Although Peruvian and Ecuadorian producers can hardly compete with Bolivia on quality, they may be able to compete on price and reliability, depending on their own agricultural conditions.

Bolivian farmers are demanding (as they have for several years) more irrigation and water pumps to improve their ability to whether the fickle Altiplano weather, especially in the context of local climate change.

I imagine commercial quinoa prices may be going up, but if you're feeling pinched by the high prices, spare a thought for the hardship of depending on quinoa for profit and for food security in the Altiplano.  The quinueros (quinoa farmers) surely don't need pity, but they also deserve a considerate thought.


  1. El fenómeno climático aún es más grave como usted se imagina. El viento que enterró todo, luego la helada, luego las vicuas y finalmente las plagasque nos dejaraán con una pérdida del 100%.
    Atte, quinuasullka@yahoo.com

  2. Estimado Porfirio,

    Gracias por su comentario. Entre el viento, la helada, y las plagas, que van a hacer los quinueros? Hay soluciones local o gobermental?

    Yo he visto el impacto del viento en Colcha "K" y luego el impact de las plagas a cerca de Challapata. La situacion es demasiado dificil, que pueden hacer los productores de quinua?

    Gracias y buena suerte