News (or no news) from Challapata

The information we received from Bolivia yesterday is not surprising: In comparison to the week before, the price for quinoa has risen again. On Saturday, the 17th May farmers that were selling their quinoa in Challapata. That translates into an export price of about $7,000 per MT. Exporters are concerned that international buyers of “the golden grain” will soon turn their back on Bolivian quinoa since cheaper quinoa is available in Peru for example.

As opposed to earlier statements that about 50% of Bolivia’s quinoa were smuggled over the Peruvian border, all the Bolivian quinoa is needed for the country’s exports. The weekly Challapata market, the quinoa “Wallstreet” on which the price is weekly determined is lately very busy. A group of about 100 middlemen, who are often working for the exporting companies, is actively buying and selling quinoa on that market. Their strategy for gathering as much quinoa as possible is “más tienes, más te pago”, meaning that a farmer with a big quantity of quinoa will be paid a better (higher) price than a farmer, selling only a little.

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Weighing bags of quinoa in Challapata, Picture: Annika Gabriel, Bolivia 2013