Ellesmere farm produces UK's first large-scale quinoa crop

Stephen Jones said he first started experimenting with quinoa production in 2006

South American grain quinoa has been grown for the first time commercially in the UK.

Food scientist Stephen Jones said he had first experimented with growing it on his family farm in Ellesmere, Shropshire, in 2006.

Mr Jones said many of the strains had failed, but he had now successfully used two varieties developed in the Netherlands.

He said he expected to harvest 120 acres (48 hectares), in September.

He added he was working with other growers in Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk, who had planted quinoa for the first time.

Four strains

Mr Jones said: "We've had further interest for next year from farms in Kent and Essex as well.

"In the past, what people have tried, including myself, is growing South American varieties... but the grain doesn't mature, even long after expected harvest time and then you can't get a combine [harvester] through it."

Both the NFU and grain research specialists HGCA said they were not aware of quinoa previously being grown commercially in the UK.

Mr Jones said he held the UK commercial rights to four strains developed for use in Europe and working with other growers meant he was able to spread the risk.

He said he said the grain would be marketed as a niche product under the British Quinoa Company brand. He said the firm intended to use it in packaged salads among other products.

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Hands holding quinoa Stephen Jones says it has taken seven years to produce a commercial UK crop
  • Quinoa is an ancient grain, native to the Andes
  • Rich in protein, minerals and vitamins it has been declared a "supercrop" by the UN
  • There are more than 3,000 different varieties across the world
  • About 70,000 tonnes of quinoa is grown in Bolivia and Peru each year, the majority of which is exported

Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization

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