Quinoa: from boutique to broadacre

9th September 2020 | Eativity editors

A new open access quinoa variety developed here in Australia is set to boost opportunities for farmers to grow this increasingly popular food, with major production potential for both local and international markets.

Rich in protein, essential amino acids, fibre and a range of other nutrients, quinoa is well deserving of its reputation as a “superfood”. Its strong nutrient profile and the varied uses of the seeds for consumption has led to an increase in demand for quinoa worldwide.

As the first public, non-contract quinoa variety in Australia, this new variety – known as “Kruso White” – may be the key to transitioning quinoa from a niche, cottage crop to wider adoption across Australian broadacre farming environments.

Funded by AgriFutures Australia, with co-investment from the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), a national quinoa research project was undertaken between 2015 and 2019.

The project, which focused on investigating where and how quinoa can be grown across Australia, was also successful in developing the new variety suitable for Australian conditions, which is now ready for bulk up and commercialisation.

Access to the locally bred Kruso White will soon be available following the completion of an expression of interest through the DPIRD, which seeks to licence multiple organisations to bulk up and market the quinoa variety upon its commercial release.

DPIRD research scientist Dr Harmohinder Dhammu at a quinoa trial at Geraldton, WA.

AgriFutures Australia General Manager, Business Development, Michael Beer, has welcomed the launch of Kruso White, emphasising the increased opportunity that a public variety of quinoa offers Australian producers: “The production of quinoa globally climbed from 23,000 tonnes in 1990 to almost 200,000 tonnes in 2019”, he says.

“Considering this huge increase in demand, the national quinoa project recognised the potential for quinoa as a high value cash and break crop in Australian cropping systems.”

With promising results under both rain-fed and irrigated conditions, Kruso White has proven suitable for winter and spring-autumn sowing, has wide adaptability, good yield and high seed quality. The new variety will provide growers with access to high quality quinoa seed suitable for Australian conditions that can be incorporated into local farming systems.