From boutique to broadacre — Australia's quinoa launch

Monday, 14 September, 2020

From boutique to broadacre — Australia's quinoa launch

Rich in proteins and essential amino acids, quinoa is well deserving of its reputation as a ‘superfood’, and even offers a gluten-free substitute for other cereals. Its wide availability and the varied uses of the seeds for consumption has led to an increase in demand for quinoa worldwide.

Now, Australian researchers have developed a new open access quinoa variety that is set to boost opportunities for farmers to grow the popular superfood, with increased production potential for both local and international markets.

The new variety, called ‘Kruso White’, was launched in Kununurra in northern Western Australia. As the first public, non-contract variety in Australia, researchers believe it may be the key to transitioning quinoa from a niche, cottage crop to wider adoption across Australian broadacre farming environments

A national quinoa research project, undertaken from 2015–2019, investigated where and how quinoa can be grown across Australia and was also successful in developing the new variety, which is now ready for bulk up and commercialisation.

The project tested current quinoa varieties, advanced breeding lines and germplasm lines at 16 locations across Australia (throughout WA, NT, Qld, SA and NSW), with the results having implications for farmers, processors, marketers and consumers.  

Dr Harmohinder Dhammu, research scientist at the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and principal investigator of the quinoa project, said the average yield of Kruso White across 15 good trials at a national level was 1.5t/ha, with a yield range of 0.5–3.1t/ha. Gross margins of Kruso White production were found to be double that of wheat and canola under rainfed conditions at Geraldton, WA, assuming quinoa yield of just 1t/ha.

Gross margins of Kruso White quinoa were found to be double that of wheat and canola under rain-fed conditions in Geraldton.

The project has been funded by AgriFutures Australia, with co-investment from the WA DPIRD as project lead. “The production of quinoa globally climbed from 23,000 tonnes in 1990 to almost 200,000 tonnes in 2019,” said AgriFutures Australia’s General Manager, Business Development, Michael Beer. “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, the variety is suitable for winter and spring/autumn sowing, with wide adaptability, good yield and high seed quality. An agronomic package including weed control options, best management practice, improved techniques of seed processing and the economics of quinoa production has also been developed as part of the project outcomes.

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 license multiple organisations to bulk up and market the quinoa variety upon its commercial release. Both group and individual applications are encouraged.

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