(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Scientists at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) will start field trials of the quinoa plant which is known for its medicinal and industrial uses.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) belongs to the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae), which includes many plant species. 'Several species of this family carry commercial significance for example, spinach and beetroots are largely consumed as vegetable, quinoa is a pseudo-cereal, some have medicinal and ornamental value while others have shown industrial worth for making soda ash indirectly,' a release stated.
Dr Muhammad Mumtaz Khan, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences who is leading the field trial at SQU's Agricultural Experiment Station, said that at present domesticated quinoa ecotypes have diverse characters which makes them a peculiar crop to be used for different purposes like making soaps, toasting, grains, flour, and high nutritional enhancement.
''Quinoa is known for its high protein content compared to other plant foods while it carries little lower protein compared to most legume crops. It has a favourable balance between its essential amino acid contents compared to other plant foods. It has been proven that quinoa is a good source of energy and dietary fibre, and has significant amounts of minerals such as iron/zinc and antioxidants,'' Dr Khan said. Dr Khan added that quinoa can be grown in temperatures ranging from -4C to 35C or even higher. ''Some quinoa varieties can be grown under extreme drought and salinity conditions and can be called a climate smart crop. It generally takes 160-180 days from sowing to reach harvest maturity.''
Quinoa is mainly grown in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.
The initial plan is to screen the range of quinoa biotypes on the basis of their field trial performance and later conduct precise experiments to assess the selected plant material against drought or salinity tolerance and crop productivity or quality factors. ''We hope that this could be a new crop to Omani agriculture,'' said Dr Khan.&n