INIA researchers highlighted the importance of having new varieties of berries in Maule

Background information was presented in a virtual seminar carried out within the framework of the project "Prospecting and validation of new alternatives of berries of high nutritional value to promote the industry of the Maule region", an instance supported by the Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FIA) and runs INIA until the end of 2021.

"Having information on the requirements of each variety and the productive objectives allows producers to be successful in their production," said Carmen Gloria Morales, researcher at INIA Raihuén, at the seminar "Blueberries and raspberries in the Maule region: sectoral characterization and varietal analysis ”. The activity organized by INIA and FIA was attended by more than seventy producers, technical advisers and representatives of the agribusiness of the berry sector in the region.

The agronomist pointed out that having expedited, clear and complete information allows better decisions to be made, whatever the activity in the berry chain. He added that this is the way to regain global competitiveness in the sector that as a country had until a while ago. “In the case of raspberries, Chile occupied a very good world position in production and export in the frozen market. Today it has moved to third place ”. He explained that the low competitiveness is due to the incorporation of more raspberry exporting countries, some of them with lower costs as they are closer to the destination markets, and also to the poor quality of the established plant material. "The possibility must be generated that Chilean producers can opt for new and better varieties, to obtain better quality fruit in terms of size, firmness and higher production," he stressed.

Berries varietal diversification project

Morales indicated that the sector needs to improve in some aspects to increase exports. "In blueberries it is necessary to improve the firmness of the fruit (necessary to support travel to other continents) and in raspberry the fruit size and productivity must be increased". He emphasized that the productive potential of each variety is not being taken away, which happens because “producers establish varieties of blueberries and raspberries in places that are not adequate, in terms of temperatures and irrigation for each variety, so it is done it is very necessary to know the productive, vegetative and fruit characteristics of each variety ”.

The researcher said that it is very important that the actors of the berry sector participate in the training activities, since they provide relevant information validated by INIA and innovations from complementary entities.

Meanwhile, the researcher and agrarian economist at INIA Quilamapu, Jorge González, pointed out that regional berry fruit growing, given its growth, is a key sector in the economy of the Maule Region, where blueberries and raspberries are dominant. He indicated that the heterogeneity of raspberry farmers is characteristic of them, who mostly own small areas, while blueberry producers tend to be on a larger scale. The specialist added that the subsector has challenges due to its high dynamism and international competition. In this regard, he expressed that two aspects are key to the development of the sector: on the one hand, knowledge of the "state of affairs" and characteristics of the producers and, on the other, the perspectives presented by current and potential commercial varieties. "Both factors are decisive to respond to external demand," he emphasized.

Authorities highlight support for the berry sector in Maule

During the seminar, the National Director of INIA, Pedro Bustos, valued the work that INIA has developed in the Maule region together with the Regional Ministerial Secretariat of Agriculture, INDAP, SAG and, particularly, FIA. In this sense, he highlighted the development of several initiatives such as the “Berries Maule Extension Program”; the regional Bureau of Drosophila suzukii; and trainings through the Rural Youth Board and leaders. He indicated that to these are added two new projects recently awarded and supported by the Maule Regional Government and that they will be focused on key areas such as pest management Drosophila suzukii and another initiative that will strengthen rice cultivation.

Bustos indicated that despite the complexity that the pandemic has represented, INIA Raihuén has strengthened transfer and extension activities, highlighting more than 30 virtual training sessions on berries, and several others carried out together with INDAP. "This has made it possible to spread technologies, update knowledge and maintain permanent contact with producers, professionals and technical advisers in the sector," he stressed.

Meanwhile, the macrozonal manager of FIA, Robert Giovanetti, emphasized "the great work done in the framework of the berry program". He added that in its execution "we were able to reach the productive sector with great actions and today we culminate this year's activities with this great seminar." The manager acknowledged the work done, which "will be very useful for the entire berry value chain."

Finally, the seremi of agriculture, Luis Verdejo, highlighted the support that the sector has had through the INIA Berries Extension Program. "This program and other previous initiatives have made it possible to characterize the limitations and gaps in growth and development for the sector and work to overcome the limitations." In this sense, he highlighted the work of the INIA researchers "for being always present with a lot of prominence in the development of the berries business in Chile".

The seminar featured presentations by the Odepa professional, Javiera Pefaur, who presented the topic “The Chilean export industry: analysis of the situation and perspectives”; from INIA researcher Jorge González who referred to the "Sectorial characterization of berries: analysis of producers and microenvironment"; and by the INIA Raihuén researcher, Carmen Gloria Morales, who presented “Varietal analysis of raspberry and blueberry: origin, current situation and perspectives”.

On the occasion, the researcher Morales presented the INIA publication "Blueberries and raspberries in the Maule Region: sectoral characterization and varietal analysis" which will soon be available to producers in digital format.

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