Climate change is contributing as a major factor in reduction of conventional crop yield. It is a need of hours to introduce those crops that have great potential of survival against the extreme environmental conditions and have high nutritional status. In this perspective, quinoa can be cultivated as climate resilient crop to meet the high nutritional demand of the growing population.
With increasing the world population the demand of food is increasing day by day. The lifestyle of the people is changing with changing the eating habits of the people. Now a day, people are demanding high nutritional food rich in bio active compounds. The productivity of our conventional crops (wheat, maize and rice) is decreasing day by day due to extreme crises of salinity, drought and high temperature.
Its nutritional value and potential health advantages are very high due to its remarkable concentration of carbohydrates, high proteins contents than cereals, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fatty acids. Due to its low glycemic index, it is using as an ideal and health beneficial food.
The nutritional status of the quinoa is very high. It contains 14-17% protein which is superior in quality than soybean. The amount of protein present in quinoa is almost equal to that in milk because it contains all essential amino acids. The major part of protein is present in the embryo and the other tissues also contain some concentration of protein contents.
Its bran occupied almost 40% of total seed mass and is a rich source of protein and fat. It is non-conventional protein source due to its high nutritional status. Its amino acid composition is very well balanced due to high percentage of essential amino acids and more bio availability. It contains high percentage of cystein, lysine and methionine than our conventional crops. It is more famous due to its protein quality than its percentage in grain which varies according to its genotypes.
The major form of carbohydrate present in quinoa is starch which is 30-70% of dry matter. The quality of quinoa product varies according to the percentage and properties of starch. Starch is usually stored in perisperm portion which occupies 40% of the kernel volume. The shear- stability and peak viscosity of starch is very high than amaranth, wheat, white sorghum, millet and buckwheat.
Vitamins: Quinoa seed contains vitamin A (0.12-0.53mg), vitamin E (4.6-5.9), riboflavin (0.20-0.44) and ascorbic acid (0.00-8.5mg) per 100g.
Minerals The presence of various minerals like, Mg (170-270mg), Ca (46-340mg) per 100gm makes quinoa a high nutritious and more valuable food. Quinoa seed contains 3 and 5 times more iron than wheat and rice respectively. It contains 2, 4 and 8 times more potassium than wheat, maize and rice respectively.
Fatty acids Quinoa seed contains omega-3(4.77%), omega-6(50.24%), and omega-9 (26.4%) fatty acids and palmitic acid 9.59%.
Oil contents: A remarkable percentage of oil contents are present in quinoa seed which are in the range of 5 to 7.2%.
Saponins: It is present on the upper surface of the seed that is bitter in taste; it’s a reason, of very low insect and pest attack on the quinoa seed. These saponins contents can be used for making soaps, shampoo, detergents, beer, toothpaste, pesticides and antibiotics. In the light of above discussion,
Land preparation; Quinoa plant can be grown on a wide range of soils. Normally it is growing in loam, sandy loam and saline soil. 2-3 cultivations are required for satisfactory growth.
Seed rate and planting geometry: 2-3 kg seed per acre is used for sowing. Sowing is done manually with hand. There is 2.5ft Row to Row and 1ft pant to plant distance.
Fertilizers: It requires 50kg nitrogen, 20kg phosphorus and 20 kg potassium per acre.
Irrigation: 2-3 irrigations requires for it. 1st irrigation is applied late for the well establishment of roots.
Weeds: Quinoa belongs to the family of Chenopodium album (bathu) and Chenopodium murale (krund). There is no specific herbicide for quinoa. 2-3 hoeing requires for weed removal.
Insects and disease: Quinoa crop remains safe from insects and pests due to presence of saponins on the outer surface of seed. Saponins are bitter in taste which restricts insects and pests. Aphid attack has been observed on some leaves.
Harvesting: Its harvesting time is last week of March or first week of April. When plants attain 4-6ft height and 60-70% leaves turn brown. Threshing is done by hand.
Storage: Seed should dry 2-3 days after harvesting. When moisture contents reaches below 9%, it should pack in hermetic bags for long time storage.
Uses: Whole quinoa plant is useable for food for plant and animals. The quinoa seed can be grounded to make biscuits, juices, sauces, bread and pasta etc. Its stem and leaves can be used as a fodder for animals.
We should cultivate quinoa on commercial scale to meet the emerging demands of food for world growing population and improve the nutritional status of food. We should also create awareness about the high nutritional profile of quinoa among the people.