Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa): An Emerging Nutritious Crop in Pakistan

       Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa): An Emerging Nutritious Crop in Pakistan

                                    Muhammad Waqas Yonas1*,  Wajiha Anum1

1Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan

1Regional Agricultural Research Institute, Bahawalpur

Correspondence E: Mail: [email protected]


Kingdom: Plantae    Clade: Angiosperms; Eudicots    Order: Caryophyllales

Family:  Amaranthaceae


Quinoa (C.quinoa) is an emerging and innovatory crop in Pakistan. It can become an important agricultural crop which provide number of nutrients and other food products for the consumption of human being. First time quinoa was introduced in our local conditions by the USDA in 2008.


Quinoa (C.quinoa) is basically native to Andean region of Northwestern and South America. This crop is domesticated and grow 3000-4000 years ago in the basin of Lak Titicaca, Peru and the Bolivia.

Plant Botany

Quinoa (C.quinoa) does not belong to the family of cereals and grasses it considered as a pseudo cereals. It considered as a poaceae family due to the high content of starch in this crop but in the sense of its botany it is not as such. Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant can grow up to the 3m and show resistant to the drought and frost condition.

Root: Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant have basically very fibrous root system. When root system fully developed then its structured as taproot which is branching as secondary roots. It can go deep into the soil up to 1.8m depending on the weather conditions.

Stem: Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant have robust with scaly stem which is radish in color. Stem of quinoa is actually cylindrical in shape. Color and thickness depends on the variety. Diameter of the stem can be 1-8 inches. Color of the stem can change from greenish to red, it can be change sometimes in purple tones.

Leaves: The leaves of quinoa (C.quinoa) plant are stalked  and compound which is green in color and alternate to the stem. At maturity it tuned in yellow to red in color which is depends on the variety type. Here in quinoa two types of leave are present: rhomboid leaves are present at the top and lanceolate leaves which is present around the inflorescence of plant. The edges of the leaves are serrated and smooth both type is present.

Flower and Inflorescence: The stem of each quinoa (C.quinoa) plant ends in an inflorescence. Which is known as panicle or raceme. Each panicle has a more developed central axis and some secondary and tertiary branches. The length of the inflorescence ranges from 30-80 cm and the diameter 5-30 cm respectively. A single panicle can bear 100-3000 achenes. Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant bears hermaphrodite flowers which is 3mm in size. Quinoa plant flower are incomplete which is sessile and have no petals.

Fruit: Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant bears numbers of dry fruit achenes which is cylindrical lenticular in shape. Quinoa (C.quinoa) fruit are different in color: white, brown, red and purple.

Nutritional Value

Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant are very nutritious.  Its nutritional profile coocked quinoa contains about water 71% and 13% 21.3% carbohydrates. High amount of protein also presents which is about 4.4%, which is higher in quality and quantity than any other kind of cereal. Fat content about 1.92% also present in the quinoa plant. It contains significant amount of soluble fiber which act as detoxifying agent and helps to eliminates the wastes from the body. It also has number of amino acid like lysine and Sulphur and it also have omega (3,6 and 9) in right optimum quantity. In addition, fruit of quinoa plant also contain Ca, Mg, P, K, Mn and vitamin A and E in compatible amount to the requirement of human being. Below table contains the all information regarding nutrients present in the quinoa.

Substance Amount Substance Amount Substance Amount
Calories120Sugar0.9 gMonounsaturated0.53 g
Water72%Fiber2.8 gPolyunsaturated1.08 g
Protein4.4 gFat1.9 gOmega-30.09 g
Carbohydrates21.3 gSaturated0.23 gOmega-60.97 g

Nutrition facts of 100g of Quinoa cooked plant

Carbohydrates are present 21% which is comparable with other major cereals like barley and rice. Out of this total content of carbohydrates 83% carbohydrates are present in starch form. And rest percentage consist on fiber and small portion of sugar such as ribose, galactose and maltose. Cooked quinoa plant is excellent source of fiber 2.8%, beating the both rice and maize which have fiber content 1.8 and 2.4 percent respectively. 10% fiber is present on dry weight bases in cooked quinoa and large quantity 80-90% of this fiber is present in insoluble fibers form. Cooked quinoa contain 2% protein which is mainly composed of linoleic acid, palmitic acid and oleic acid.

Climatic, soil and others Requirement

Quinoa plant widely adopted to the climatic conditions. It can be grown on the coastal region to over 4000 m altitude or near the equator in Andes areas. Depending on the variety, cool weather conditions are optimum for growing of quinoa plant. Maximum and minimum temperature in which quinoa plant can with stand is 35°C and -4°C respectively. The optimum temperature range for its cultivation is 12-20°C. Some new cultivar can withstand in low temperature without any kind of damage. Quinoa plant can resist to the drought and frost condition. Rainfall requirement of Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant are variable between 300-1000 mm among different varieties of crop.

Quinoa crop most importantly can grow on saline soil and here in Pakistan we all know that our 1/3rd cultivated soils are salt effected. Quinoa (C.quinoa) crop plant can be cultivated on the upper hilly areas like Hunza valley and lower plains like Bahawalpur. Luckily Quinoa (C.quinoa) plant acclimatize to the Pakistan conditions and its growing season in Pakistan is October-March. Its production is gradually increasing since its introduction in our local conditions. Quinoa can tolerate soil pH ranges from 6-8.5. It can grow successively at 44-88% relative humidity. This crop has very low fertilizer requirement for successful crop production and irrigation requirement of quinoa crop is only 3-4 irrigations.


 From one hectare of quinoa field we can get 2.5 tons of seed. Furthermore, 8 tons of bio-mass which can be used as fodder, vegetable or as a biofuel in the house. We can get 200g quinoa seed from a single panicle. Now a days one kg of quinoa seed is 600 PK rupees. Now a days Pakistan exporting quinoa seed and generate revenue.

Health Benefits

Because quinoa plant is extremely rich in minerals other plant compounds, it makes the quinoa an important plant for human diet. By addition of quinoa in diet we can overcome the problem of low blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides level. It also helps to reduce the body weight because quinoa has high protein and fiber content and has relatively low value of glycemic index.


Quinoa (C.quinoa) crop plant seed has miscellaneous health benefits. Its grains are grounded and used as a flour. Its grain also used to make biscuits, sauces, pasta, bread, juices and cakes. In the western countries it is also as popped just like popcorn. Quinoa plant have saponins which is used for making pesticides, detergents, shampoo, toothpaste and beer. It is also used as a salad.  It is also used for substitute wheat and rice in local sweet dishes like halwa and kheer.


In current scenario of water and climatic conditions I suggest this crop should be given a place in our cropping scheme to get maximum return. Government and scientist should pay more attention to this crop so that we can overcome the problem of food security. The Government of Pakistan should give some kind of incentives to small land holding farmers to adopt this crop and should start awareness  campaign to educate the farmers . This crop should be particularly grown on that soils which is effected by the salts.




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