Quinoa products from the Andes exported to more than 22 countries around the world

Sustainable agriculture
A delegation of representatives of Switzerland recently visited the company Andean Valley in the city of El Alto. The Swiss delegation was pleasantly surprised by the innovations driven by the exports of the Royal Quinoa variety "Quinoa Real". After 25 years of persevering in its industrialisation, the manager of the supplying company Andean Valley states that the entire export process begins in family farming in the southern High Plateau of the Bolivian Andes.

Swiss delegation visits the quinoa processing facilities

The delegation was comprised of the Director of the Latin America Division of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Diepak Elmer, the Swiss Ambassador in Bolivia, Edita Vokral, and the Head of the Bolivia programme of SDC, Ueli Mauderli.

The representatives received a tour of the processing facilities, which transform quinoa-based derivatives. They also had a look at the production complex of the Quinoa Real variety, in connection with promoting exports of climate-friendly products – a strategy that is implemented together with Andean Valley and other companies with the support of the Inclusive Markets project of the Swiss-Swedish cooperation in Bolivia.

The Andean Valley Corporation – a family business

Founded in 1996, the Andean Valley Corporation is a family business that supplies 46 clients in 22 countries around the world. In addition to investing in infrastructure, it generated four business units dedicated to processing quinoa as raw material, from packaging under international standards to the development of food products derived from the grain for national and international consumer markets. Its own brand is endorsed by two of the most important global certifications: Fair for Life and Regenerative Agriculture.

"It took us 12 years to move from bulk processing to developing processed products based on real quinoa. We studied in detail the food consumption markets in Europe, the United States and Asia where we identified, tested and developed several innovations. These include quinoa brownies, quinoa pasta with pesto and real quinoa porridge with vegetables for babies. At the same time, we are facing, together with the 487 farming families that supply us with raw material, the recurrent droughts/frost, soil erosion, the advance of pests and the decrease in yields as a result of uncontrolled intensive agriculture. "
Javier Fernández, General Manager Andean Valley.

A systemic approach involving actors from different sectors

According to Rolando Oros, Executive Director of PROINPA, one of the institutions implementing the Inclusive Markets project, a systemic perspective, where private, public, university and community actors take on their interdependence is required to address the problem of Quinoa Real in the High Plateau (Altiplano):

"Being part of the system, we know that (scientific) research in itself is not enough, that having laws and infrastructure dedicated to markets is not enough. What we need to do is to address systematically and in a cross-sectoral way, for example, the growing desertification processes that threaten the production cycles of quinoa in Bolivia."

During his presentation, Oros cited at least five collaborative experiences implemented in the private, community and export sectors. For example, Energytop, a biofertiliser developed by PROINPA, which essentially "captures atmospheric nitrogen and solubilises phosphorous from the soil, facilitating plant growth from the roots and increasing productivity". An innovation made in Bolivia that also aims to replace the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals in all food systems.

Resilient solutions for the quinoa production sector

For Franz Miralles, Inclusive Markets Project Coordinator, the concept of regenerative agriculture is not new in Bolivia. In the altiplano, conservation with a productive approach would be applied at the wrong time due to the growing intensification and monoculture triggered by the global demand for quinoa:

"From the experience with Andean Valley, we know that we are capable of providing resilient solutions that can be replicated or scaled up to the entire quinoa production sector. That's why we agree with Javier Fernández that his raw material starts in the fields of family farming. We know very well that this sense of co-responsibility with suppliers and environmental awareness is bearing fruit, which is part of the new trends in international markets. In this new project phase, which we initiated in 2022, we intend to scale up or replicate these virtuous circles that improve sectoral performance, in search of sustainable access to markets that revalue our family farming, as Bolivia's food heritage for the world."

Ambassador Vokral expressed her appreciation to the Fernández family: "implementing a strategy that is up to the standards of the main consumer markets is commendable, and even more so when it is done in alliance with Bolivian farmers dedicated to an age-old crop such as quinoa". 

Ueli Mauderli, Head of the Swiss Cooperation in Bolivia, also expressed his admiration for the achievements of Andean Valley and its industrial processing, hoping that all accomplishments will result in a solid and fertile alliance with family farming in Bolivia. 

Sustainable agriculture
Inclusive Markets in Bolivia
The main objective of the program is "to improve the living conditions of the target population by helping them reduce their poverty situation". The purpose is "to increase the opportunities, capacities and income of the target population".The Inclusive Markets project is implemented in Bolivia with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and...