An ancient superfood from the Andean Plateau is key to food security

Entrepreneurial ecosystems
"The cañahua has changed my life, it has made me a confident woman" Trigidia Jiménez, Manager of the Granja Samiri farm

With a high nutritional value of 19% protein, the cañahua is considered an ancient superfood and originates mainly from the highlands of Peru and Bolivia. Among the three most nutritious Andean grains are cañahua, quinoa and amaranth. However, the cañahua has the highest percentage of iron and has Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.

The Samiri farm is committed to being an ambassador for the production of cañahua according to ancestral teachings, while taking care of the ecosystem during planting.

Agronomist Trigidia Jiménez owns and manages the Samiri Farm and is one of the beneficiary producers of the project that promotes the ancestral heritage through Resilient Production, Marketing and Consumption of Cañahua and Tarwi of the Euroclima+ programme, financed by the European Union and implemented by Swisscontact. She tells us about her ecosystem-friendly enterprise.1

How did the Samiri Farm start?

We started in 2002 in the municipality of Toledo, Oruro, with one hectare of cañahua. We use ecologically sustainable production systems in harmony with nature that fuse ancestral culture with technology and can improve people's quality of life through nutrition. Today, we are considered the largest producers of organic cañahua in Bolivia.

How much do you produce?

We have 1,500 hectares, half of which is devoted to the cultivation of cañahua, which generates an annual average of 1,000 quintals. 65% of the production goes to our processing plant, where we produce organic seeds, washed grain, cooked and pre-cooked flour, flakes, energy bars and more. We worked with the National Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Innovation (INIAF) in the department of Oruro, for the certification of cañahua varieties, which allowed us to be the first producers of certified seeds. In 2020, two cañahua genotypes (Wila and Janco) were certified. This guarantees the nutritional quality for the consumer and increases the price when exporting.

How do you contribute to the environment?

One of our main contributions is the supply of rainwater that we collect through reservoirs built in the area of micro-watersheds in order to "harvest" the water from rainfall and use it rationally for irrigation of the hectares of crops and domestic consumption. The use is collective, thus reducing the expenditure of energy and the mistreatment of animals used to transport this natural resource over long distances.

How many people work at Samiri Farm?

There are six of us at the farm, at harvest time there are 15 workers and indirectly 42 families producing cañahua, providing raw material for the municipality of Toledo. Of the jobs generated, 70% are held by women. With the empowerment of women through job training comes economic independence. There are two women on the board of directors who are in charge of the relevant decision-making.

Do you have any new projects planned?

In 2020, we developed an online shop with the support of Swisscontact through the project "Resilient Patrimony of Andes, Cañahua and Tarwi.  

They helped us in the elaboration of our business plan and commercial strategy to open virtual shops and later establish a physical presence  in Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz. This year we intend to implement the virtual shop.