From left; Cristhian Carrasco, Carlos Martín and Leif Jönsson; on the Bolivian Altiplano, at the start of the Quinoa Project in 2017. Photo by courtesy of Carlos Martín.A groundbreaking research project on turning inedible residue from quinoa production in the Andes of South America into bio-based products, will have a long-term continuation. Fresh funds from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), and a great investment of time and resources by the project leaders, mean that a number of students will be trained to lead the work in Bolivia and that new bio-based materials will be developed.
The pair will oversee research and training on production of bio-based polymers—bio-based substances or materials consisting of very large molecules—that will eventually result in new materials made from quinoa stalks. These latter are what is left over after the protein-rich edible part of the plant has been removed.
The pharmaceutical and food industry are targets for the bio-based materials to be developed.
Bolivia, along with other Latin American nations place great belief in the nascent bioeconomy to provide renewable products and sustenance to farmers in financially challenged regions sharing the Andean Altiplano, the high-altitude plateau of the mountain range that straddles Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.