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Crop scientist Cedric Habiyaremye shares quinoa’s hunger-fighting potential in TED Talk

Posted by struscott | December 2, 2020
Cedric Habiyaremye, WSU research associate, explores the potential for quinoa to address malnutrition in a 2020 TED Talk.

Cedric Habiyaremye, research associate with WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, shared the potential for quinoa to help solve global hunger and malnutrition in a virtual TED Talk.

Filmed earlier this year, Habiyaremye’s TED@Work talk was featured this fall on the TED homepage.

Habiyaremye was only seven years old when he fled the genocidal upheavals in his home country of Rwanda. After three years of hard, hungry survival, he returned, but the struggle for food continued in his homeland.

Indigenous to South America, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a nutritious food source for countries like Rwanda, where most people work in farming and agriculture.

As a graduate student at WSU, Habiyaremye helped introduce the crop to Rwanda in 2015, testing 20 varieties of quinoa to gauge adaptability across different ecological zones.

“The results were astonishing,” he said.

More than a dozen varieties were promising, and Habiyaremye went on to launch a model farmers program, which has grown to nearly 500 Rwandan producers.

“We give them seeds, train them how to grow it and how to cook it,” he said. “Farmers are pretty creative, coming up with recipes of their own. And we’ve started seeing remarkable changes in their lives, including success stories that many of them can now have access to nutritious food three times a day.”

In concert with other alternatives, such as millet, sorghum, oats, and barley, quinoa’s biodiversity, adaptability, and nutritional value could help bring food security, seed sovereignty and sustainable production in communities and countries that experience malnutrition.

“Having nutritious food should not be a luxury,” Habiyaremye said in his talk. “There is a need to ensure that there is accessible and affordable nutritious food for everyone. And this is a step towards making it a reality.”

Habiyaremye earned his doctorate in agronomy and crop science at WSU in 2019.

He and his colleagues at WSU’s Sustainable Seed Systems Lab created the Global Participatory Quinoa Research Fund to help sow seeds of agricultural and nutritional resilience in low income and underserved communities.

Learn more or get involved with the Global Participatory Quinoa Research Fund here.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas through short, powerful talks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.