2022.9. Bolivia Business Trip Report

Subject 3: "Development of cropping system for sustainable quinoa production" Establishment of research implementation infrastructure for the start of field research and field trials

At the start of the local technology transfer for the SATREPS Bolivia project "Strengthening of Resilience in Arid Agro-Ecosystems Vulnerable to Climate Change, Through Research on Plant Resources and Technological Applications", Associate Professor Keisuke Katsura of TUAT and JIRCAS Research Fellow Kenichiro Fujii held a meeting with the Bolivian counterpart institutions, the Universidad de San Andrés (UMSA) and the Andean Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (PROINPA). They confirmed the progress of the project and discussed future plans in details. The overland trip from La Paz to Uyuni was also used to study the evolution of the quinoa cropping system, and in Uyuni, suitable plots were found for a marginal study of quinoa cultivation.

Group photo at PROINPA Viacha Station

Meteorological instruments installed in Umala, Cañaviri

Preparation of Quinoa Cultivation@Estancia Jarma 2022.9

The rainy season begins in September and the cultivation of quinoa begins. Quinoa is the only crop that can be grown along the shores of Uyuni Salt Lake. This photo shows a field in Estancia Jarma, east of Uyuni Salt Lake, where the soil has turned white due to salt precipitation. The brown plowed field in the upper center is where quinoa will be grown this season. The Uyuni Salt Lake can be seen in the background.

Quinoa planting plots @Uyuni Salt Lake 2022.9.

This is a field where we will be planting quinoa in Uyuni Salt Lake. The brownish area has been plowed, and you can see whitish material flowing in from the right side to the left side. This is sand carried by the wind. The area is subject to strong winds of up to 10 m/s on a daily basis. In the harsh environment of Uyuni, the recovery of vegetation is slow, and wind erosion progresses like this as soon as the land becomes bare. One of the major goals of this project is to reduce wind erosion damage by taking advantage of the local vegetation.

Quinoa germinated in a field near Uyuni Salt Lake 2022.9

Around Uyuni Salt Lake, the fields are cut into rows and dozens of quinoa seeds are sown between the rows, 10-15 cm deep underground. Because of the severe drought in this area, it is necessary to sow deeply to avoid drought. It is surprising that quinoa seeds can germinate at such depths, since the largest seeds are only about 2 mm in diameter. However, unstable precipitation and sand burial often prevent germination, and this is the biggest problem that plagues farmers. Many farmers have to reseed their quinoa due to poor germination. Stabilization of germination is a very important issue for stable and high yields of quinoa.

Quinoa stalks after harvest 2022.9

This field was planted with quinoa last season, and there are still some quinoa stalks left after harvest. Quinoa belongs to the redbud family, and redbud stalks are very hard.  These hard stems are not easily broken down and are also very difficult for livestock to utilize. Effective utilization of these quinoa stems is one of the tasks of this project.

Dunes by Uyuni Salt Lake 2022.9

Along the shores of Uyuni Salt Lake, sand carried by wind erosion accumulates in large quantities on the rocky shores and forms sand dunes. You can see how severe the damage caused by wind erosion is.

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