Chile looks to new fruit varieties to boost exports
Consortium general manager Jaime Kong, said the aim is to increase profitability and competitiveness of the country's main fruit exports and it is working on new varieties with improved quality, color, size and condition.
"The programs are focussed on developing new products but in turn, seek to solve the main problems of productivity in the sector and meet the needs of the fruit industry."
The consortium is developing varieties such as table grapes resistant to Botrytis, stonefruit that can tolerate cold treatment for transportation, cherries with an extended season and less vulnerability to pitting, rasperries with a longer post-harvest life and apples resistant to the Venturia fungus.
Since the Consortium's creation in 2005, private sector investment in research and development has increased by 34%. The organization is funded by the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) and comprises the Exporters Association AG (ASOEX), Universidad Católica and 25 companies representing 40% of Chile's exports.
FIA innovation executive Alfonso Yévenez, said the organization has played an important role in industrial-academic ventures.
"Working with Universidad Católica and the Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute (INIA) we have trained teams comprising over 40 researchers and professionals in breeding and biotechnology, with well equipped infrastructure to develop cutting-edge work," explained Yévenez.
Chile is a leading exporter of fresh plums and is fifth largest exporter of peaches and nectarines. According to the Office of Agriculture Studies and Policy (ODEPA), in 2011 exports generated US$3,409 - a 4.7% year-on-year rise.