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As a first step, a major germplasm collection and evaluation should be made. Seed should be collected both from the wild and from farmers' fields. Variation in color, sensitivity to daylength, uniformity of maturation, yield, susceptibility to pests, and adaptation—particularly to cold and salinity—should be noted.

It is vital when breeding improved kaniwa to get plants with seeds of uniform maturity that stay in the seedhead as it dries out and that can be easily husked. Such nonshattering plants with easily husked seeds would usher in a vastly expanded future for kaniwa. In some circumstances, mechanized threshing would also help.

The plant's potential as a fodder deserves intense investigation. Because it grows readily at high altitudes where traditional forage crops fare poorly, it could help extend the usefulness of many now-marginal lands. It is highly digestible, nutritious, and mineral rich, and can be left standing in the field as a reserve for use when pastures dry up and forage is scarce.

Kaniwa's value as a source of genes for other chenopods is worth investigating. For example, although quinoa is not closely related, kaniwa genes might prove transferable using modern techniques, and they might contribute increased hardiness, dwarf stature, and saponin-free seed coats to the quinoa crop.

Trials should be performed outside kaniwa's native region to measure the plant's geographical adaptability. Together with other “life-support crops” from the Andes, the Himalayas, and elsewhere, kaniwa should be put into high-altitude trials and tested for its potential to sustain life in Asia and Africa as it has been doing for millennia in the Andean heights.


Botanical Name Chenopodium pallidicaule Aellen

Family Chenopodiaceae (the family of lambs-quarters)

Synonym Chenopodium canihua Cook

Common Names

Quechua: kañiwa, kañawa, kañahua, kañagua, quitacañigua, ayara, cuchi-quinoa

Aymara: iswalla hupa, ahara hupa, aara, ajara, cañahua, kañawa

Spanish: cañihua, cañigua, cañahua, cañagua, kañiwa

English: kaniwa, canihua

Origins. Kaniwa's origins are uncertain, but it is almost certainly an Andean native. It has a strong tendency to “volunteer” itself in

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