Press releases

Trade in quinoa benefits rural communities in Peruvian High Plateau

11 May 2016
ITC News
A new ITC study reveals consumer purchases of quinoa benefit the rural poor

Buying quinoa, a grain crop native to the Andean Region, contributes to improved livelihoods of the rural poor, mostly women, in Peru. Higher prices driven by consumer demand in Europe and the United States in the period 2013-14 benefited Peruvian smallholder farmers and rural communities. Conversely, the fall in prices since 2014 resulted in these rural households having less income and even reducing their food intake.
These are the findings of a year-long survey which took place in 2014-15 of 150 Peruvian households undertaken by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The survey and analysis was carried out in partnership with Peru’s trade promotion agency, PROMPERU, the University of Minnesota and Towson University in the United States.
ITC’s study also presents key results from data collected by the Peruvian Government on the impact of quinoa price fluctuations, the latter also confirming that exports of quinoa to developed countries contribute positively to the welfare of poor, rural communities in Peru.
The ITC publication, Trade in Quinoa: The Impact on the Welfare of Peruvian Communities presents an analysis of data collected in the Puno and Cusco districts of the Peruvian High Plateau (altiplano) located at about 3650m in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country. The survey addressed questions about agricultural production, household food consumption, household composition, quinoa storage, and biodiversity.
The analysis reveals that when quinoa prices fell substantially in 2014-15, so too did the well-being of the surveyed Peruvian families in the High Plateau. As quinoa prices fell by 40% towards the end of the 2015 harvest, total food consumption of households also declined by 10% and wages by 5%.
‘The research shows that trade in quinoa has benefited some of the world’s poorest farmers, most of whom are women. However, the study also shows that the link between trade and livelihoods needs to be supported, especially when market conditions become challenging as they are now. ITC is ready to play its part in providing necessary support,’ said Arancha González, Executive Director of ITC.
Since 2014, prices have dropped, largely due to competition from large farms in coastal regions of Peru. Despite currently lower quinoa prices, there are opportunities for cooperatives and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to compete by differentiating their product as biodiverse and produced by smallholders. However, support is still needed to incentivize the building of storage facilities and to establish markets for ecosystem services so that smallholders are rewarded for increasing the biodiversity of quinoa in the Andes.

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