"Let's stop looking to the side, today a good producer, with good quality of fruit, should not be afraid ..."

The agronomist and university professor, Gonzalo Allendes Lagos, is technical director of agronomy in South America of the international AGQ Labs, and we interviewed him because his company is organizer of the 3 ° International Seminar "Chile, leader of the cranberry industry: New competitors, new challenges, new strategies ", which will be held at the 28 in April at the Monticello Center in Chile.

We ask him essentially about the topics on which the call for the event is oriented.

- What do you think are the most important challenges or threats facing Chile as the first exporter of blueberries

- From the field that we have to move, which is the production, I think the most important challenges are in obtaining high yields, with excellent postharvest quality. Cranberry cultivation is not easy, and has a lot of susceptibility to handling errors, from the choice of the area, the variety, and the preparation of the soil forward. Each step must be analyzed and carried out with the highest technical discussions, and be executed with the highest standards of management, in a timely manner.

An orchard that has been conceived in this philosophy is not difficult to take it to a high productivity. On the other hand, it is a reality that in many situations this is not fulfilled and productivity is already mortgaged to a lower ceiling.

Another point is the quality of postharvest, nowadays China and other Far Eastern markets are very attractive commercially, so the traveling capacity of this fruit is fundamental. Today we have three years working on this with good results.

- In the international market what is the importance of the quality of the fruit, and in that same field, what is the importance of science and professional research in this regard?

- I would separate two things, we define quality as conditions of the fruit that the market wants, size, firmness, sweetness, crunch, etc ... but this is defined by the consumer. Another thing is its benefits in antioxidants and other substances beneficial to health. I return to the first point, the problem of Chile is that we are very far from the markets, so we must arrive with the same characteristics requested to destination after 15, 20, 30 or 40 days by boat. It is for this reason that the fruit must have exceptional characteristics.

Today the largest research on this issue is being carried out by private companies. Often lacks greater scientific rigor, but offers a greater dynamism, which is what the industry needs. Personally, I participate in the academic world and I would like more implication, but I have the feeling that they are going at different speeds, with different objectives and with different resources.

Without science and research you can not reach the standards of fruit that are needed, this is fundamental. In AGQ we assume the challenge and we have spent three years researching from the nutrition the keys to obtain the desired fruit, besides working hard with fruit analysis to obtain ranges, to have a result of the work done in the field and to be segmented by some variables of according to market. There is still much, but we already have several meeting points. In the present seminar we will address the issue fully.

- In your opinion, what are the main factors that affect the yield of the plantations and the quality of the Chilean fruit?

- Uff ... it's a great question. But I will answer it as follows: Without roots there is no life.

Everything that affects the fact that we do not have quality roots will directly affect the result, be it soil preparation, planting, soil structure, irrigation, electrical conductivity, pH, etc. These variables must be audited, have information and take actions for their normal development. The second point is light, always young garden with good wood (good pipes) has a greater potential. When the above variables are correctly worked out, nutrition gives the qualitative and quantitative leap in productivity and fruit quality.

Regarding the real threat to Chilean fruit that would mean the appearance of new competitors, the AGQ executive confesses that he does not have such a clear answer due to the complexity of the issue. It emphasizes that the Chilean fruit is characterized as a product of good quality and the commercial window is well delimited, "however, the nearby producing countries, such as Argentina, Peru or Colombia, are oriented to the most attractive windows for them", He points out.

States that Mexico is a case worth analyzing as a threat because of its special conditions, since they can produce at different times of the year, and have the US market as a neighbor. In the case of Colombia, it indicates that they can also produce in different windows, so they can be a future threat, but do not believe that in the short term they are, "because of the small surface area and the great internal demand", Explain. He also aims to observe the developments in South Africa and Australia, "that something could compete, but I'm not clear", Reiterates Allendes.

"Today we aim at China with great enthusiasm, but what will happen when China decides to produce and export to the world? I believe that today they are only possible threats, but in the short term they will not affect", Ends Gonzalo Allendes predicting.

In this scenario we ask you then about what to do next:

- What are the decisions and strategies to be developed to face this possible new scenario?

- The first thing I think is to stop looking to the side, today a good producer with good fruit quality should not be afraid. The center today, is to put all efforts in achieving productivity, quality, and with the cost necessary to achieve this. This certainly improves the ratio and makes it a very attractive business. Last year was a good year and with a good dollar price, it is time to invest in precision technologies to continue improving.

Gonzalo Allendes comes from the world of research and academia, in addition to being an executive of an international company, so the transfer of information and knowledge is a vital element when defining valuable tools. He says goodbye underlining that AGQ and Blueberries Consulting have this same spirit when organizing these seminars, always trying to have the best technical discussion that can respond to the problems of the blueberry industry in each country.

Source: Blueberrieschile.cl - Blueberriesconsulting.com


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