Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: Professor of Agronomy seeks to add value to the production of legumes in the O’Higgins Region

The initiative seeks to develop a food portfolio, based on foods such as lentils and chickpeas, for the national to international market. Through an Innovation Fund for Competitiveness of the Regional Government, it will work directly with farmers to obtain their organic certification and generate an inclusive business model.

Researcher Andrés Schwember , from the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering , has been working for years to strengthen the dry coastal territory and the producers of legumes, with a strong emphasis on sociocultural diagnosis for the development of relevant solutions and training. Through an Innovation Fund for Competitiveness (FIC) of the Regional Government entitled “Transfer of organic food based on legumes”, the researcher will continue with this commitment in six communes of the O’Higgins Region, it is Litueche, Navidad, Pumanque , Marchigüe, Lolol and Paredones.

The initiative, carried out together with Conversa Chile and the Consortium of Functional Cereals (CCF), aims to take advantage of the high demand for healthy foods from consumers and society in general. Therefore, they will work to add value to the production of legumes in the O’Higgins Region, through the development of a food portfolio, based on legumes, for the national and international market. This includes the direct purchase of raw materials from producers in the region, the qualification for organic production management and the generation of social capital and an inclusive business model.

“Here organic agriculture plays a relevant role in ensuring that we can consume healthier food. In these three years of projects we are going to work mainly with the 30 farmer-tractors, together with Indap and Prodesal, developing organic protocols, mainly oriented to use organic seeds, use of bioinsecticides and biofungicides allowed, rotate crops -which had been left monoculture ”, explains Andrés Schwember, director of the project.

“We are going to work mainly with the 30 farmer-tractors, together with Indap and Prodesal, developing organic protocols, mainly oriented to use organic seeds, use of bioinsecticides and biofungicides allowed, rotate crops – which had been left to monoculture” – Andrés Schwember, project manager

This will mean that, towards the end of the three years, part of the farmers should have their organic certification to sell directly to the CCF. “With that we skip the intermediaries that, normally, take most of the cake, delivering a new marketing alternative,” adds the researcher.

Play at home
Paulina Fernández, Director of Extension of the Faculty, valued the project in terms that “it seems extraordinary to us to have Litueche, Navidad, Pumanque, Marchigüe, Lolol and Paredones working together on a project that takes up the identity that they carry in the DNA of the zone, with more science and technology “.

In the same vein, Leonor Díaz, head of the Development and Industry Division at GORE O’Higgins, highlighted that this initiative solves an existing problem and that it is aligned with citizen sentiment.

“It is fundamental for us to look for alternatives, through the commercialization of various products for the user. Even more so in the dry land, where the production alternatives are far less than those that we could find in an irrigated sector. We are happy to support a project that provides new opportunities for farmers, ”said Juan Carol García González, INDAP Regional Director.

“It seems extraordinary to us to have Litueche, Navidad, Pumanque, Marchigüe, Lolol and Paredones working together on a project that takes up the identity they carry in the DNA of the area, with more science and technology” – Paulina Fernández, director of Extension of Agronomy UC

The work with the farmers will consist of support for the organic production of legumes and for the commercial association with the CCF , for which 30 were invited to participate in the project, introducing these crops and actively participating in their suggestions, contributions and claims. The researchers hope that even more members will join along the way, as they see benefits and profitability from their neighbors.

Innovation Fund for Competitiveness
The project has a strong innovation component, since this type of production has not been done previously. “UC has high expectations for this project as, as we are able to partner with these farmers, we could replicate it in other regions,” Schwember plans.

“Transfer of organic foods based on legumes” is executed by the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering UC, together with the consulting firm Conversa Chile and the Consorcio de Cereals Functional, and is financed by the Regional Government of O’Higgins with its Innovation Fund for Competitiveness FIC-VI (IDI Code 40027302-0).

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