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Peruvian maca captures the attention of the Chinese market and scientists
Studies on its energy effectiveness are being carried out in this country, and maca wine and whisky are already available on the market

Patricia Castro Obando
From Beijing

With more than a decade in China, maca grown in the Province of Yunnan aims to evolve. Due to recent studies, local scientists want to leave behind the belief that it is an aphrodisiac – as maca is sold in this country- and to show its real impact in health and wellbeing among the Chinese population.

The Institute of Medicinal Plants Development (Implad-Beijing) has just published the book “Maca: New health source” which brings together the academic works of Chinese researchers Niu Jiamwei, Peng Yong and the Peruvian specialist Gustavo Gonzales Rengifo from Cayetano Heredia University.

The book written in Chinese has a picture of Machu Picchu in its cover and acknowledges the origin and quality of Peruvian maca. Scientist Xiao Peigen – who, a decade ago, presented in Beijing the first study on the properties of maca – highlights the need to expand the ways of cooperation in this field.


Much potential

The Baotianjian group – which is already selling maca in whisky, wine and other spirits in the Chinese market – is giving a new direction to its strategy; and supported by the scientific evidence, will focus on the benefits of Peruvian maca. In 2007, Chinese researcher Xu Lijia and Peruvian researcher Cynthia Gonzales proved for the first time that the antioxidant properties of red maca are higher than those from the other varieties.

“We need more studies that prove the effectiveness of maca in treatments against diabetes, cardiovascular problems, certain types of cancer, which are of great interest in China”, explains scientist Xiao. According to his colleague Gonzales, in addition to being a natural energizer, maca improves memory and learning, reverts osteoporosis, prostate hyperplasia, among other diseases.

According to the state press, maca growing in China has contributed since 2002 to improve life conditions of farmer communities located over 3.200 meters above sea level, in the poorest areas of Yunnan, where potato was usually the only crop grown. A decade after, the cultivated surface area has been extended to almost the entire province, with fifty local companies selling maca in the internal market.


Seed in China

“How did the seed arrive to China?” This is the big unanswered question that specialist Gonzales is wondering about. Dr. Gonzales also comments the difficulties that maca has faced in adapting to other countries, and even inside Peru, outside of the central Andes area. “In Pasco and Junin, maca has the best biological response and will always be above any other in the world”, he claims.


Has contributed to improve the quality of life of Chinese farmers.

For researcher Yong Peng, “products tend to become universal, as was the case of potato or ginseng. The key is to make progress in scientific studies, in order to find more properties and make it known worldwide”. Gonzales proposes a new stage of collaboration between his institute and Implad.

It was in 2000 that the Peruvian scientist began to show interest in maca due to a study published in the Urology magazine of the United States, written by a Chinese researcher. Next year he presented his first academic work about maca. Fourteen years later he came to China to lecture on what is known here as “the Andean ginseng”.


MORE DATA

AWARDED
In 2010, Gustavo Gonzales was awarded by FAO (The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) for his research on maca.

MARKETS
There is a great demand for this root crop in markets such as Arab Emirates, Greece and Slovakia.
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