Agronometrics in Charts: Chilean Systems Approach pilot in Mexico could serve as a Litmus test for the U.S. market
Chile awaits the approval of a Systems Approach by the U.S., which would allow table grapes from the regions of Atacama, Coquimbo, and Valparaiso to be shipped to the U.S. market without necessitating methyl bromide fumigation. The ongoing pilot program in the Coquimbo region, destined for Mexico, serves as a litmus test for this approach.
Rodrigo Astete, sub-technical director of Chile's Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) claims that the program allows the application of independent measures that provide the same phytosanitary security as fumigation. The Coquimbo pilot, spanning January to March, aims to extend sustainable practices to bolster competitiveness and reduce costs for Chilean grape growers.
"I think that a pilot program in the region of Coquimbo is a great opportunity, therefore, we have to take it with great responsibility. The world is moving towards more sustainable processes and this is one of them; it can be the way to unblock the problems that the Systems Approach has had for grapes destined for the US Market,” says José Corral, zone manager of Exportadora Subsole de Coquimbo.
The success of the pilot could pave the way for broader implementation, transforming the landscape for Chilean grape exports. As per data provided by Fruits from Chile, during the 2022-2023 season, 2,514 tons of table grapes were exported from the Coquimbo Region in Chile to Mexico, reflecting an increase of 21% over the previous year.
Through the integration of the Systems Approach, exports have the potential to surge even further, which would enable Chile to compete on equal terms with other countries that are not obliged to fumigate their fruit. As the Coquimbo pilot unfolds, it holds the promise of not just a successful alternative for Chilean grape growers but also a potential boon for the US market, aligning with global sustainability trends and fostering a more resilient and efficient grape trade.