A pilot project field with quinoa harvest in Lalmonirhat, which is supervised by the Department of Agronomy of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University
Dhaka Tribune

From Los Angeles to Bali, every cafe nowadays will boast at least a Quinoa salad

Over the past few years, Quinoa has been dubbed the new superfood. From Los Angeles to Bali, every cafe nowadays will boast at least a Quinoa salad. Now since demand has been growing steadily in Bangladesh, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University is growing the grain as part of a feasibility study.

Originally from Latin American, Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids, says healthline.

It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various antioxidants.

For the last five years, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University has been researching and now the grain has been cultivated in five plots at the field level.

Of these, two plots are being cultivated in Lalmonirhat, one in Kurigram and two in Patuakhali.

Farmers too seem interested in cultivation.

Prof Parimal Kanti Biswas, of the agriculture department at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, got the permission to cultivate from the Ministry of Agriculture last September. “Quinoa cultivation is possible in both drought prone and saline soils, while the crop can be harvested mid-November and collected from the first week of March.”

“If a market is created in Bangladesh, our farmers will be able to benefit. Work is underway to create demand for the super food in the country, while surplus stock can also be exported,” he also said.

Lalmonirhat Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE)’s Deputy Director Shamim Ashraf acknowledged Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University’s initiative to grow quinoa in three districts of the country.

Iqbal Hasan, an agronomist of a private company, said that it costs Tk500-600 to cultivate quinoa on per decimal of land, with an average yield of 4-6 kilograms.

“Personally, I was inspired to cultivate quinoa with three farmers as a pilot. The results are very satisfactory,” he also said.

Iqbal further said that there is a huge demand for quinoa in the international market. However, the market has not yet been created in Bangladesh.

There is a demand for quinoa in big cities including the capital Dhaka. In Bangladesh, consumers have to buy imported quinoa at Tk1,600 per kg.

Mukul Kumar Roy, a farmer from Barua village in Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila, said he was inspired from Iqbal’s pilot project and decided to cultivate quinoa on 25 decimals of his own land.

“I got quinoa seeds help from him and he showed me the cultivation method of this crop. I have cultivated this crop using organic fertilizer without using any chemical fertilizer,” he also said.

Israil Hossain, another farmer, was inspired from Iqbal and also decided to cultivate quinoa on 25 decimals of his own land.

It cost him Tk13,000, and he hopes to get 80-90 kg in yield soon.

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