ROME — Bolivian President Evo Morales on Monday praised the quinoa plant popular among health-conscious foodies as a way to help solve the global food crisis during a visit to the UN food agency in Rome.
Bolivia is the main producer of the high-nutrient plant, whose seeds have been consumed in the Andes for thousands of years and is being promoted by the United Nations as a way of helping local farmers and organic production.
"Faced with the global food crisis, the Andean people have various responses and one of them is quinoa," Morales said at a ceremony in the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) where he was named "ambassador" for quinoa.
Morales, himself a former quinoa and coca grower, said quinoa had also been identified by NASA as having the healthiest balance of nutrients.
"This is seen as the ideal diet for astronauts," he said.
FAO has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa to promote the "super grain" as a way of boosting food security, nutrition and poverty eradication.
FAO director general Jose Graziano da Silva said: "We want to publicise its nutritional qualities."
Bolivia is the world's top producer of quinoa, which was little known in the outside world until recently. It is also grown in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
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