Lupinus a forgotten crop: an adaptation strategy for climate change

Lupinus species are forgotten crops. Their production, processing and the promotion of consumption, contribute to increase the resilience of vulnerable people to climate change in Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile, as well as to food security.

Context of the story

Climate change is exacerbating the problems of poor and vulnerable people in the High Andes of Bolivia and Ecuador, and Southern Chile. Legumes of the Lupinus genera have a great capacity to adapt to adverse weather and soil conditions. They also have high nutritive value due to their protein, calcium, iron and zinc content. In Bolivia and Ecuador the main species is bitter Lupinus (Lupinus mutabilis), while in Chile both bitter and sweet (L. albus, L. angustifolius and L. luteum) varieties are cultivated. It is estimated that the área of cultivated Lupinus is around 1500 ha in Bolivia, and 5974 ha in Ecuador. In Chile during the last 5 years, bitter Lupinus área has fluctuated between 4600 and 12300 ha, while sweet Lupinus has fluctuated between 5900 and 2700 ha.

Revaluing Lupinus

The implemented initiative

PROINPA of Bolivia, INIAP of Ecuador and INIA of Chile, with the support from FONTAGRO, GEF and the IADB, joined efforts to implement a Project on the use of lupine.
Its objective is to promote the development of technological innovations to strengthen the resilience of production systems through the insertion of lupine and contribute to improve farmers’ livelihoods.
The Project developed technological innovations for the production, processing and promotion of consumption of lupine, thus contributing to increase knowledge as well as economic and environmental benefits for farmers.

New varieties and processes

The technological solution

The great variability within Lupinus species and varieties require the measurement of their production performance under a wide range og agroecological and management condictions. In addition, given the degree of soil degradation, Lupinus nitrogen fixation capacity and the use of its aerial biomass are benefitial for soil fertility.
Lupinus postharvest is burdensome due to threshing and venting.
Bitter varieties are high in alkaloids which need to be removed to allow their consumption. The traditional process requires high water quantities and it takes several days, thus processes developed and validated in the Project are more efficient and result in economic and environmental benefits.
To promote lupine consumption its image needs to be changed. Also its value needs to be increased through the introduction in more dynamic markets.

Now we need less water to remove alkaloids in lupine and we make it faster
Opinion of a PROINPA staff


In Bolivia, L. mutabilis and L. albus outyielded L. angustifolius.
A technology to remove alkaloids was validated reducing wáter use from 80 to 40 l/kg of grain.
Three products based on Lupinus were developed. Now they are sold in supermarket chains. In 2017, 1500 units/month were sold.
In Ecuador yields increased from 515 to 909 kg/ha due to fertilization.
A new technology to remove alkaloids reduced processing time from 84 to 58 hours and water consumption from 96 to 66 l/kg of grain.
Aceptability and preference for products (meal, crunchy grains, liophilized, and others) was evaluated and lupine meal was exported for the first time.
In Chile L. albus outyielded the other two species and is more efficient in protein production, yielding over 1500 to 2000 kg/ha.
A collaboration with a salmon feed company was established. Now, it is purchasing and processing lupine.

Relevant data

Table: Characteristics of various Lupinus species, Bolivia

+ beneficiaries
+ beneficiaries
Scientific papers
Scientific papers
Participations in events and communications
Participations in events and communications

Participating Organizations

Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) - Chile
Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIAP) - Ecuador
Fundación para la Promoción e Investigación de Productos Andinos (PROINPA) - Bolivia

Main donors