THE STORY BEHIND... OUR ORGANIC QUINOA
Originally, the quinoa plant is found in South America, where it has been an important food source for a long time. Although the plant does not belong to the grains, the seeds are prepared and consumed in a similar way. Where does our quinoa come from, and how does the seed end up at our warehouse in Barneveld? Let us tell you the story behind our quinoa!
Quinoa from Ecuador
Our Ecuadorian quinoa comes from the region surrounding the Chimborazo vulcano. Quinoa is one of the few crops that can withstand the dry and cold air on the heights of the province that surround the volcano, which makes it the perfect crop for this region for over 6000 years.
Harvesting by hand
Quinoa is grown at an altitude of 2800-3500 meters and needs 4 to 6 months until the seeds are ready to be harvested. The plants can grow as high as 3 meters and grow in plumes. Normally, crops are harvested from March to June, but when there is heavy rainfall it can be postponed to June to August. Harvest is done by hand by the farmers and their families. They all sow, maintain and harvest their own land. Good to know: the farmers did and do not have many resources available, and therefore have always grown their crops organically.
From harvest to our warehouse
After harvesting the plants as a whole, they are dried. After that, the seeds are removed by machine, sowed, sundried for 2-3 hours after which they are packed in bulk packages and transported to the local cooperative. Over there, the seeds are destoned, washed, centrifuged, color sorted, sieved, metal detected, packed and transported by ship to our warehouse in Barneveld.
In 2009 a cooperative of organic farmers decided to produce and trade their own crop, from 2013 they process this in their own facility. The cooperative works with 557 farmers, who each have 0.5 to 3 hectares of farmland. The cooperative is a non-profit organization, so their sole purpose is to work for a better life for the farmers in this region. The board and the employees of the cooperative are mostly farmers or their children. The cooperative is trying to grow by including more farmers, helping them increase their harvest, launching new products and obtaining new quality certificates.
Not-so-fun fact: the average age of the farmers is 62. Many young people move to the city to pursue a different way of life. The cooperative tries to involve as many young people in the organization as possible, in the hope that the cooperative can continue to develop further.
Update from the field, May 2019
When we visited in may 2019, we saw a lot of plastic laying around — bottles, bags. At the moment, DO-IT is exploring the possibilities of supporting the farmers by paying a few cents more by which, in return, they clean up the plastic. We hope we are able to arrange this!
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Last update: 08-07-2019