New crop is performing well in Ethiopia

©Tinbit Amare Dejene

The newly introduced nutritious and stress tolerant crop, quinoa, is doing well in Ethiopia. The crop, still on trial at research and farmers field, has shown a great potential. Dan Church Aid Ethiopia is working with Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute (EIAR) to release the variety in the country.

“I was extremely positive to see how quinoa coped with the irregular rainy season this year in Ethiopia.” Said Mads Lindegård, DCA’s country director who recently visited quinoa research fields.

Over the last twenty years, Ethiopia has halved the number of undernourished people from 75% to 35%. Despite these achievements, Ethiopia remains one of the world's most food-insecure countries, where approximately one in three people live below the poverty line. The humanitarian reports from August 2015 estimate that 4.5 million Ethiopians need relief food assistance, due to the failed rain in most parts of the country.

In order to solve the soring problem of the country Dan Church Aid Ethiopia has been working with Copenhagen University, partners and research institutes in Ethiopia for the introduction of this newly crop to the country.

Facts about quinoa
  • It is stress tolerant adaptable to different ecological zones
  • It gives high yield without using fertilizer
  • Quinoa can produce a range of by-products: cosmetics, pharmaceutical, pesticides etc.…
  • Its nutritional value is high
  • It is free of gluten 

Status of quinoa in Ethiopia

DCA Ethiopia has been working on quinoa for the past four years and currently there is enough data from the research done which enables to proceed to the next step, variety release process. Farmers who planted quinoa under DCA’s supervision has seen the potential of the crop. One of these farmers Debesaw Mitik, 45, a father of three has planted quinoa at the beginning of June when the rainy season started.

“When I first planted quinoa they told me that it is a climate tolerant crop” explained Debesaw “ and what they told me is true because after the plantation the rain stopped for more than 15 days but it still continue to grow when other crops died.”      

The result from the piloting has shown the same thing. Quinoa has a high yield potential and can adapt to a harsh drought.  “With high input, in this case labour and fertilizer, you can only harvest up to 7-10 quintal per hectare of Teff (Ethiopian staple grain),” explained Lidet Sitotaw, DCA Crop Research Manager “whereas, under minimal input we got 21 quintal per hectare of quinoa from our trial land.”

©Tinbit Amare Dejene

The quinoa on Debesaw Mitki's field continued to grow when the other plants died of lack of rain.

The potential of Quinoa

“This is extremely promising because quinoa has the same nutritional value as milk product and it appears as it cops will stresses such as frost, dry condition in Ethiopia,” said Mads Lindegård.

The crop also has the potential to support poor farmers, who struggle with poor harvests due to climate changes, whereas they and their families often suffer from lack of food.  “In all the areas where we plant quinoa, even if there was a rainfall shortage, we have seen the potential of the plant,” explained Lidet Sitotaw, “it set seeds with the available moisture in the ground while other crops still needs additional rainfall to survive.”

Above all Ethiopian farming is entirely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, which frequently creates difficulties due to absence of rain.

Quinoa, climate-resistant crop, will be able to solve this problem. This crop has a high nutritional value and furthermore, it can help address the problem of malnutrition and stunting, which is affecting around half of all children in the 

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