Bolivian Women Bank on Sweet Success of Quinoa Bars
Monday, January 5, 2015
Behind curtains of plastic sheeting in a small room off the main square of a highland town, four women are doing something novel, tasty and very nearly healthy with quinoa, Bolivia’s ancient grano de oro (golden grain).
They mix the tiny spheres of the Andean staple with coconut, peanuts and sugar syrup, before pressing and cooking them. Some are left as they are when they emerge from the oven; the lucky ones are half-dipped in Bolivian chocolate.
After being packaged and sealed, the 800 energy bars they produce each day await distribution. A quarter will end up at an exclusive gym in La Paz – where they sell for five bolivianos (about $0.70) each – others will provide breakfast for local children, while the rest will be sold at a discount to local shops and families, or swapped for the milk, yogurt and cheese processed by a nearby dairy co-operative.
The business, which is run by an association of women from the town of Tumarapi, an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Bolivia’s administrative capital, La Paz, was started after the 100 or so local families who produce quinoa began to look for new ways to sell their produce.