PROTEIN2FOOD partners continue to explore the potential for protein-rich crops in Europe. When adapting foreign crops under the European environment, it is crucial to consider the challenges and opportunities.
The crops being tested and developed by the project (such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth) are largely of foreign origin and have a long history been a part of the natural biodiversity of their native regions. They often play a key role in providing food security for local communities.
Research carried out by PROTEIN2FOOD partners shows the potential of these plants to grow under climates different from their native ones. This can help in climate change adaptation scenarios and extreme weather conditions worldwide. And we know that introducing crops in other regions can work; the Americas have adopted foreign seeds and crops over the years and these crops have ensured a diversified diet for generations of indigenous and modern societies.
The opportunities that cultivation of protein crops in Europe present are worth considering. Successful cultivation of these crops could contribute towards enhanced food security and biodiversity in Europe. Trade barriers can create complications in the import of these crops and cultivating them locally can be a long-term solution to this problem. But the question of whether the protein crops grown in Europe can match the quality of the produce from original countries remains at large.
To find out if protein crops have EU potential, PROTEIN2FOOD researchers focus on different levels; from crop production, protein extraction and processing, food processing, to market analysis and sustainability assessment of protein-rich crops. The Italian project partner investigating the production of various crops, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), developed a geographic information system for crop cultivation, based on a meta-analysis. The online tool maps out the cultivation possibilities of multiple crops with different genotypes, environments and agriculture management systems. In a study by CNR, Louis Bolk Institute and Copenhagen University– field tests were carried out for buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa in three different EU climate zones.
Read more on the results of these studies in the following articles: New online geographic information tool shows 32 years of crop cultivation data & Protein crops tested in three European climatic areas