INIA will prospect new varieties of blueberries and raspberries with a focus on their healthy properties

With FIA financing, prospecting and validation of new varieties will be carried out through the INIA Raihuén Berries Maule Extension Program, collaboratively with producers, extensionists, nurseries and agro-industrialists, to offer new productive alternatives.

The renewal of varieties is key for our country to maintain its competitiveness in the field of berries, and for this, INIA Raihuén in partnership with the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) is betting to focus on the growing global demand for functional foods .

What are functional foods? They are those foods that naturally or processed contain components that confer the ability to have beneficial effects on human health and well-being and, at the same time, reduce the risk of disease if they are regularly incorporated into the diet.

In that plane, berries, due to their high anthocyanin content, become a highly demanded food, not only because of its flavor, but because of its antioxidant function that decreases cell aging.

"At present, there is a growing interest in foods that contribute to enhancing the health and well-being of the population together with a strong questioning by consumers towards products with high content of salt, fat and sugar. This has led to a greater demand for food that promotes an improvement in the quality of life. And in that sense, the berry industry in Chile has an opportunity to take advantage of ”, points out Javier Chilian, INIA researcher and deputy coordinator of the Berries Maule Extension Program.

"However, adds the researcher, there is little information about alternatives of berries with high nutritional potential and beneficial for health. That is why we are starting to execute a project that will allow us to expand the productive offer for agribusiness, focusing on these healthy properties of the varieties available worldwide ”.

For FIA, it is a fact that our country has enormous potential to diversify its agri-food industry with the production of functional ingredients and specialized additives which include a wide range of products such as natural dyes, Omega 3, binders and antioxidants, among others.

“Globally we see that the population is understanding that there is a direct relationship between their diet, their health and their quality of life, and this trend that grows every day along with concern for the environment, forces the industry to pay attention in this demand for healthy products ", explains Robert Giovanetti, FIA Regional Coordinator at Maule.

Due to the great potential that berries have in this scenario, this FIA innovation project linked to the Berries Maule Extension Program called “Prospecting and validation of new alternatives of berries with high nutritional value to boost the Maule industry” was launched. .

With a duration of three years and a total investment of around 195 million pesos, Robert Giovanetti explains that “the initiative will provide the Maule region with a catalog of raspberry, blueberry and other berries of interest, with a validation of the material introduced to the region according to its adaptability to local conditions and according to the needs of the industry, in this context of new consumer trends ”.

Participatory search

A fundamental component of this innovation project is its management model that is based on a participatory strategy among all the actors in the berry chain. In fact, between the 15 and the 17 of April, three participatory workshops were held in Parral, Curicó and Villa Alegre.

“We are establishing a public-private alliance for the implementation of a participatory, prospecting and agronomic evaluation platform for new varieties and species. And we are building this platform between producers, extensionists, nurseries and agro-industrial companies, ”says Javier Chilian.

The workshops seek to agree on the requirements of productivity and quality of fruits of the berry industry of the Maule region, according to their current export markets. The collaborative work will also identify, at national and international level, the new raspberry and blueberry varieties that respond to these requirements; establish a platform for quarantine introduction and multiplication of plants; and finally, establish evaluation units for the surveyed varieties.

“We will analyze phenological, productive, fruit quality, post-harvest and economic parameters, and we will build a strategy of integration and dissemination as wide as possible for the promotion of the results obtained by the project,” adds the researcher.

With this project, he points out, the impact of the Berries Maule Extension Program is complemented because it will allow integrating applied research into the extension and innovation system and thus transferring new knowledge to producers, technicians and specialists in the area.

What is the Berries Maule Extension Program?

It is an initiative executed by INIA Raihuén with the support of FIA and the Maule Regional Government to promote research, innovation and knowledge transfer to berry producers and all members of the production chain. More information in www.inia.cl/berriesmaule/

Source
INIA

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