Quinoa farmers throughout the Northern Altiplano have formed producers' associations to support each other in increasing productivity and product quality and to sell their quinoa together for a higher price. SID helps these associations adopt the farming practices that achieve these aims. We also help them adopt basic business practices and rotate and fallow their farmland to reduce erosion. In addition, we work with rural radios to provide quinoa price and market information and with local workshops to make better threshers and winnowers for quinoa as well as screens to separate the larger export-quality grains from the smaller ones.

Landscape2Prior to the program, the farmers sold their quinoa to intermediaries, and they did not make business or land-use plans. We help them make business plans, fallow the land used for crops to avoid erosion, and sell directly to exporters. Farmers used ordinary seed and sowed their fields by broadcasting the seed by hand. We help them use certified seed and sow their grain in furrows for better productivity. They threshed their grain on the bare ground with animals or flails. As a result, there was dirt and small stones in the grain, and they received a very low price for their poor-quality quinoa. We help them thresh their grain on sheets of plastic by driving back and forth over it with a light vehicle, and use winnowing screens to separate the broken bits of the stalks from the grain.

Prior to the program there was neither price information nor local production of threshers, winnowers or grain-size separators. We helped establish a price information system via rural radio stations, as well as the local manufacture of affordable equipment that saves labor and increases quinoa quality at the same time.

In April 2015, the 298 members of the first group of 10 quinoa associations graduated from the project. They had completed three years of assistance from SID, and they had adopted basic business practices and the farming practices for increasing productivity and product quality and controlling erosion. Productivity rose from 7.61 to 11.87 quintals per hectare, their quality from third to first quality, and their income from $508 to $1,985 a year, which is more than they could earn from a job in the city.

The second group of 16 quinoa associations now has 564 members, and they will graduate from the program in April 2017.