Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF) disburses USD 2 million to promote Fairtrade quinoa. In addition, the ongoing technical assistance project is enhancing the farmers’ production and will protect them better against climate change.

You could consider quinoa as a part of the Bolivian cultural heritage. The Bolivians are relying on the grain as a food source for 7,000 years. Despite the rising popularity of the grain, quinoa farmers face challenges like low productivity and climate change.

SINDAN, a Bolivian processor and exporter of quinoa is boosting the organic and Fairtrade production and consumption of quinoa (and other crops like for example also of chia and amaranth). Not just any quinoa, but the organic royal quinoa, a unique variety found only in the Bolivian Altiplano, at altitudes above 3,600 meters. The particular environment of a dry and cold climate with soils rich in salt lead to a superior quality. No wonder, this variety is in high demand both nationally and internationally.

SINDAN buys the quinoa from certified Fairtrade associations, representing hundreds of smallholder farmers. In that way, SINDAN offers those small farmers a secure market and prices above the average of other local buyers, which gives them the opportunity to raise the standard of their living. On top of that SINDAN provides trainings on techniques to help the farmers increase their production in a sustainable way.

Low productivity and climate risks threaten the livelihood of communities that depend almost exclusively on quinoa production. That is the reason why Incofin is not only investing via a USD 2 million dollar loan disbursement, but also developed a technical assistance project to finetune the farmers’ production techniques. The objective is to boost quinoa yields using environmentally friendly practices, through an integral productivity training program. This program includes topics like the use of organic fertilizers, how to prevent erosion, seed management and disease controls. The project has shown encouraging results: almost 200 producers have been trained already and they have implemented innovative techniques to produce sustainable quinoa which is after a year and a half leading to higher yields.

The second goal is to implement a climate change adaptation action plan to reduce the impact of unpredictable weather patterns and extreme climate events.  Meteorological sensors have been installed in two communities. Through these sensors, farmers will get early alerts and meteorological reports on their phone, as well as technical advice on how to protect their crop better when necessary.