Latin America

Conflict and controversy stain South America’s profitable quinoa market

Over 90 percent of the world's quinoa comes from Peru and Bolivia. Demand has skyrocketed, but farmers face increasingly poor working conditions

Quinoa Plantation In Uyuni, Bolivia.
Quinoa Plantation In Uyuni, Bolivia. Photo: Weeraporn Puttiwongrak/Shutterstock

The Inca people first appeared in the 12th century, in what is now southeastern Peru. In a short space of time, they developed a well-organized civilization which stood for some 300 years. Long before they were invaded and conquered by the Spanish in the 1500s, the Incan Empire was well versed in agriculture, building an economic system highly dependent on the cultivation of Andean grains. One of their most prized crops was quinoa, still known today as “the sacred cereal of the Incas,” or “Incan gold.”

The nutritious commodity has seen a massive resurgence in the 21st century, due to...

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