Quinoa: A Promising New Crop for Salinity-Affected Areas in the Mekong Delta

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The sixth edition of Delta Talks, hosted by the CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas (AMD) and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), focused on the potential introduction of quinoa as a viable crop for salinity-affected areas. Dr. Robert Van Loo, Senior Scientist in Plant Breeding at WUR, presented significant findings and opportunities associated with cultivating quinoa in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

Dr. Van Loo highlighted the compelling attributes of quinoa that make it a promising addition to the agricultural landscape, such as:

  • High macro-nutrient content, including protein, oil, and starch, essential amino acids, minerals, and dietary fiber
  • Gluten-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten allergies or intolerances
  • Salinity and drought tolerance, presenting resilience in challenging environmental conditions
  • Short crop cycle, ranging from 3 to 7 months depending on the variety, and adaptability to different day lengths
  • He also shared the results of their initial yield testing in Vietnam, which unveiled promising outcomes, with specific varieties exhibiting remarkable potential for adoption. The varieties Atlas and 2-Want were identified as the most suitable, with the Atlas variety displaying non-bitter characteristics, simplifying its introduction and reducing associated costs and waste. European non-bitter varieties further showcased their potential, signaling the prospect of mutation breeding to transform bitter quinoa varieties into non-bitter ones.

    Finally, Dr. Van Loo outlined crucial steps to advance the cultivation and utilization of quinoa in the Mekong delta, such as: validation of actual yield levels and continuous improvement of yield through the exploration of commercial F1-hybrid seed production systems; development of fully daylength-adapted varieties to enhance adaptability and productivity; and establishment of a robust value chain, promoting local consumption as a cost-effective alternative to rice and exploring opportunities for sales in local and export markets.

    To learn more about the research, watch the full session:

    A collaboration between AMD and WUR, Delta Talks is a webinar series focusing on the development and results of research activities on securing food systems and strengthening climate resilience in the Asian mega-deltas. Delta Talks serves as a platform for the joint exchange of research results or ongoing work between AMD and WUR.

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