New breeding strategies for quinoa in Peru

Peru is a diverse country: tropical climate prevails in the Eastern rain forests (“Selva”) while there is a dry desert climate in the West and in the coastal regions (“Costa”). The central Andes (“Sierra”) and the Andean plateau (“Altiplano”) are moderate to cold zones. This diversity is reflected in the agricultural systems. Peruvian smallholder farmers in all parts of the country are cultivating a multitude of maize and quinoa varieties. This biodiversity is at risk, due to increasingly extreme climate events and migration of young people to the cities, leading also to loss of the traditional knowledge concerning cultivation, use and preservation of the cultivated plants. The results: there is a chronic shortage of food especially in remote regions. A total of eight million Peruvians live below the poverty line, which is equivalent to almost 30 percent of about 30 million Peruvians.

The Capacity Building Initiative of KWS in Peru consists of various projects, completely financed by KWS, which in the long term are supposed to help improving the food security of Peruvian smallholder farmers.

One of the projects is focusing on new breeding strategies for quinoa. Quinoa is an annual, very nutritious grain crop that has been domesticated in the Andes about 4,000 years ago. The target of this project is to develop strategies for improved breeding. For this purpose, genetic variations and gains from the selection in crosses of different parental quinoa materials are studied. At the same time, the project tries to preserve the genetic resources of quinoa and to make it usable for a sustainable agriculture. Project partners include the National University of the Altiplano (UNAP, Puno) and Hohenheim University (UH). A Peruvian PhD student is involved in the project, being trained in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Karl Schmid (UH).

Contact persons for more information: Paul Olson:, Walter Schmidt:  

Websites: Capacity Development initiative: Peru project details: