The exchange of knowledge and experiences in the production chain of this grain has strengthened the capacities of the two countries in the agricultural sector.
Quinoa (kínua in Quechua) is a superfood, widely recognized for its protein quality and nutritional properties, which consumption has expanded in recent years. Its high nutritive value is well known in countries that share the Andean Highlands, such as Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, where it has been grown and consumed for many years. In fact, according to the information of the Governor’s Office of the department of Boyacá (2019a), there is a progressive increase of its production in these countries and it is estimated that more than 80% of the world’s total quinoa production is concentrated in the first three.
The United Nations also stressed this product’s high value when 2013 was declared the “International Year of Quinoa”, in recognition of ancestral practices of the Andean people, who have managed to preserve quinoa in its natural state as food for present and future generations and for the fight against hunger (FAO, 2021).
Being aware of the advantages quinoa production and consumption have for this sub-region, of its potential in other markets and its contribution to food security, Bolivia and Colombia approved the South-South Cooperation project “Strengthening productive capacities for quinoa cultivation in the municipalities of Soracá, Siachoque, Tunja and Tibasosa in the department of Boyacá, Colombia”, in the framework of their 2017-2019 Bilateral Cooperation Program.
This initiative strengthened these two countries’ capacities in the agriculture and livestock sector through a series of field visits between 2018 and 2019 and through the exchange of experiences between authorities and experts in the matter, who analyzed the different stages of the production chain of this “golden grain”. In August 2018, for example, the Governor’s Office of the department of Boyacá and the House of Boyacá in Bogotá, together with the Secretariat of Agricultural Promotion, invited the International Quinoa Center (CIQ by its Spanish acronym) and the Association of Quinoa Producers of Salinas de Bolivia to participate in the I Quinoa Academic Forum, in the framework of Expo Boyacá 2018. That same year, in November, the Colombian institution which participated in this initiative had the opportunity to visit Bolivia’s southern highlands, where technical teams learned about Bolivia’s renowned experience in the cultivation of this grain.
Finally, in May 2019, Colombian authorities and producers visited Bolivia to deepen their knowledge on harvest and post-harvest processes, production systems and organic certification, certified seed production and the management of royal quinoa bio-indicators. They also exchanged knowledge and experiences with local producers in the departments of Oruro and Potosi (Embassy of Colombia in Bolivia, 2019). According to the different people who participated in this project, the results were very positive: quinoa chain producers now have the necessary knowledge and instruments to continue the production of this sustainable crop with the best possible outcomes (Governor’s Office of Boyacá, 2019b).
In short, this exchange, which focused on the development of innovative processes in the agriculture and livestock sector, especially for a crop such as quinoa, mainly contributed to the alignment of SSC in Ibero-America with SDG 2 Zero Hunger and, also, with SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth.
Finally, it should be recalled that, prior to this cooperation exercise (which is a model to respond to the challenge of food security) there was an important SSC precedent in 2014, which already addressed matters related to quinoa: a project in which FAO, scientists from North Africa and the Near East, and Peruvian authorities participated, which focused on the cultivation of this grain as a possible response to reduce hunger in some African countries (FAO, 2014).
Source: SEGIB based on Governor’s Office of the department of Boyacá (2019a) (2019b), Embassy of Colombia in Bolivia (2019) and FAO (2014) (2021).