Su­per­food farm hope

Townsville Bulletin - - CLASSIFIEDS -

IT be­gan as a hard- to- pro­nounce hipster health fad but quinoa may one day make Aus­tralia a global su­per­food su­per­power.

A world­wide boom in con­sump­tion of quinoa ( pro­nounced KEEN- wah) has sparked in­ter­est in grow­ing the high- pro­tein, high- priced ce­real in Aus­tralia and now agri­cul­ture re­searchers have set up tri­als around the coun­try to in­ves­ti­gate the po­ten­tial for high- vol­ume lo­cal pro­duc­tion.

Pro­ject leader Richard Snow­ball, from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Food Western Aus­tralia ( DAFWA), is over­see­ing tests of quinoa crops in NSW, South Aus­tralia, Queens­land, Western Aus­tralia and the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

“Early in­di­ca­tions sug­gest quinoa could be an ideal crop, given it’s not a very dif­fi­cult crop to grow,” said Mr Snow­ball.

The trial will take three years and while it is early days, Mr Snow­ball said any even­tual Aus­tralian quinoa in­dus­try would most likely be ex­por­to­ri­ented.

Quinoa is al­ready grown in Tas­ma­nia and parts of Western Aus­tralia but only on a small scale and with lim­ited lo­cal pro­cess­ing.

DAFWA has been re­search­ing quinoa po­ten­tial at its Ku­nunurra Re­search Fa­cil­ity for three years and fa­cil­ity man­ager Mark Warmington said re­sults to date are promis­ing.

“Early tri­als un­der ir­ri­ga­tion have re­vealed a typ­i­cal crop pro­duces a yield of be­tween two to three tonnes per hectare,” Mr Warmington said.

“When you fac­tor that in to the cur­rent price of quinoa of be­tween $ 1400 and $ 4000 a tonne or more, and the high con­sumer de­mand, the fu­ture for the crop and grow­ers’ prof­itabil­ity looks bright.”

Western Aus­tralia quinoa grower Ash­ley Wiese, of Aus­tralian Grown Su­per­foods, is not in­volved in the trial but sup­ported its po­ten­tial for de­vel­op­ing the drought- tol­er­ant crop, which is well suited to Aus­tralian con­di­tions.

“Although we have com­mer­cial plan­ta­tions it’s only early days and there’s a huge amount we don’t know,” Mr Wiese said.

Quinoa has long been a di­etary sta­ple in its home coun­tries of Bo­livia and Peru, where 95 per cent of the world’s crop is cur­rently grown.

The ce­real has soared in pop­u­lar­ity since 2008 – a rise at­trib­uted to its endorsement that year by US talk show icon Oprah Win­frey.

And while the United States re­mains the big­gest mar­ket for quinoa, im­ports to Aus­tralia more than dou­bled be­tween 2012/ 13 and 2013/ 14.

Quinoa even ap­peared on Aus­tralia’s new healthy eat­ing pyra­mid when the chart was re­vised this year.


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