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General Assembly Launches International Year of Quinoa

20 February 2013: The UN General Assembly launched the International Year of Quinoa with a High-Level Panel discussion during its plenary at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bolivian President Evo Morales and First Lady of Peru Nadine Heredia participated in the launch, which will be celebrated under the theme "A future sown thousands of years ago." 

The UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/221 declared 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa, a Year that is intended to spread knowledge and understanding about quinoa, a hardy crop with high nutritional value, and to recognize the importance of quinoa to food security, poverty alleviation, the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and to the Andean farmers that have preserved the grain.

In his statement at the launch, the UN Secretary-General highlighted the potential role of quinoa in the achievement of the Zero Hunger Challenge initiated at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 or UNCSD), but cautioned that many inequalities remain with regards to access to nutritious food. He also highlighted that," quinoa is truly a food for the Millennium Development Goals and can make an important contribution to post-2015 development strategies."

Currently, almost half of the global production of quinoa occurs in Bolivia and Peru, where a majority of the quinoa farmland belongs to smallholders. However, production is expanding to other regions, in part because quinoa is drought tolerant and can grow in a wide range of temperatures and in poor soil conditions.

The increased popularity of quinoa is, however, causing an increase in its market price, from US$70 ten years ago to about US$2,000 today. This increase, while contributing to poverty alleviation, is also encouraging farmers to sell quinoa rather than use it for personal consumption and, as such, limiting the potential of quinoa to address malnutrition in the Andes. The price increase is also leading to increased conflict over land and higher instances of land degradation.

Themes addressed by the High-Level Panel included: food security and nutrition, and the right of people to food and food sovereignty; indigenous peoples, ancestral knowledge, and sustainable development in harmony with nature; biodiversity of quinoa and its potential to address climate change; and the high potential of quinoa and its contribution to food security, nutrition and the eradication of poverty in achieving development goals.

The launch was organized by the Technical Secretariat of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, [Statement of the UN Secretary General] [UN News Feature] [UN News] [UNGA Press Release] [Concept Note on the Global Launch of the International Year of Quinoa 2013]