Chilean grower sees kale potential
Kale, which is considered a superfood, is anti-inflammatory, loaded with antioxidants, and is beneficial for the digestive system, according to farmer Gonzalo Fernández.
Fernández has received assistance from the Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta) to support the project.
"I saw potential in its nutritional content, given that fast food is so common these days and has created major problems with obesity, so I think this vegetable can have a positive impact on society," he said.
The grower owned a vineyard in San Antonio, in the V (Valparaiso) region - an area known for its wine production. Maintaining its organic seal, Fernández wanted to expand the family business and introduce kale to the domestic market.
"I embarked on this project on a pilot basis. I did all the paperwork to import organic seeds from the U.S.," he said.
"Once I got permission from the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] I made an inquiry with SAG [Chile's National Agriculture and Livestock Service] and began to see if the plants could be developed here with these conditions and soil."
After a long process, the farmer finally made the first planting in July this year, "in a small area, between a half to one hectare, but in high density."
Fernandez is growing four varieties of kale - Blue corse, Lacinato, Red Russian and Siberian, which are marketed as fresh produce for salads and juices.
"I am currently experimenting to sell dried and powdered kale, as it is a perishable product," he said.
Kale belongs to the brassicas family, with two growing seasons per year, and can be consumed both raw and cooked, as well as in juices.