NorQuin is looking for producers with at least 80 acres
By Diego Flammini
A Saskatoon, Sask., company is looking for farmers across Western Canada to add another crop to their rotations.
Northern Quinoa Production Corporation (NorQuin) wants to work with growers who are interested in growing quinoa.
“We’re looking to add more growers to our network,” Marc Vincent, vice president of research and development with NorQuin, told Farms.com. “We’ve seen a drastic increase in demand in quinoa and we already have contracts to buy the product directly from us.”
NorQuin wants to help make quinoa a staple crop in Canadian agriculture.
Quinoa is typically grown in countries like Peru and Bolivia, who are among the global leaders in production.
But Canada is positioned to be one as well, Vincent said.
“Canada and the U.S. are the two largest importers of quinoa and I ask myself why we can’t grow it here,” Vincent said. “We’ve developed our own varieties to grow in Canada that are significantly higher yielding than what’s coming out of South America.”
The crop does well on well-drained, loamy soils with steady topography typically following a cereal crop to help control broadleaf weeds.
NorQuin provides support to the farmers it works with to ensure the best crop possible, Vincent said.
“We have red, white and black quinoa varieties that we’re contracting for the domestic market and export to the U.S.” Vincent said. “During the contract we work with the growers to determine which field sites will work best.”
Farmers typically start with about 80 acres and make increases from there, he added.
One benefit of working with NorQuin is price stability, Vincent said.
Quinoa is marketed as Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. Grade 1 is the highest quality while Grade 3 is usually used for the pet food market.
“A Grade 1 bushel of quinoa sells for about $29 per bushel” Vincent said. “We can avoid price fluctuations and have a consistent price year after year because we sell direct to market.”
Canadian farmers have increased their quinoa production over the years.
In 2011, growers only planted quinoa on 312 acres. That figure jumped to 11,868 acres in 2016, the latest Statistics Canada data shows. The number of farms reporting quinoa production also increased from eight in 2011 to 118 in 2016.
Saskatchewan led Canada in quinoa production in 2016 with 9,525 acres of the crop. Alberta had 1,042 acres, Manitoba had 905 and Ontario producers grew 352 acres of quinoa.
Canada also exported $4.42 million of quinoa in 2016.
Available data indicates quinoa production in Canada is likely to expand further, Vincent said.
“We’re contracting almost 35 per cent more acres this year and we expect a 200 per cent increase for next year,” he said.
Any farmers looking for more information are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.