Ñuble could reach 150 thousand hectares of fruit trees

An ambitious goal for Ñuble launched the president of Fedefruta, Jorge Valenzuela, who said that "Ñuble will become the largest fruit and vegetable polo in the country, but only if we develop irrigation technologies and infrastructure to reach the 150 thousand hectares planted with fruit trees "

The leader, who will participate next Wednesday, July 10, in the third regional meeting of fruit growers, organized by Fedefruta and the Ñuble Farmers Association, stated that “Ñuble is a hinge region for fruit growing towards the south of Chile, but in the we are currently only occupying 10% of the true agro-export potential of the territory ”.

The president of Fedefruta recalled the importance of the Ñuble Region for its close to 15 thousand hectares currently with high value crops in the markets, such as cranberries, cherries, hazelnuts and chestnuts, "and to accelerate growth is that we have installed offices in Chillán, in order to generate projects and resources that support farmers with their most important challenges in terms of water management, technology transfer and reconversion. "

According to the latest Ciren-Odepa Fruit Cadastre, carried out in 2016, in the Ñuble Region there are more than 10 hectares of fruit trees, although recent estimates for 2018 estimate this area at 13.800 hectares.

Valenzuela said that "today there are planted near 15 thousand hectares, according to Odepa, and if the reservoirs are built that is what we all hope, that Punilla stops being an idea and becomes something concrete, then many hectares would enter. Today they are rainfed, they have problems of channeling, and as a result you can make fruit. "

The leader added that "this comes hand in hand with a major technological change, investment, financing, and there begins to orchestrate a different story in the region, the banking I have no doubt that will start financing high-level projects technology, the investment in fruit is expensive, that is the one that has, and you have to have financial backs, because you have to wait for fruit trees to enter production, that's why those projects have to be looked at in the medium and long term, and as As a result of all this, the region will change. "

Consulted on the terms in which this goal could be reached, the president of Fedefruta said that "it will depend on the dynamics that are given to the reservoir."

Irrigated surface

In the opinion of the Agriculture Seremi, Fernando Bórquez, "the option of reaching the 150 thousand hectares will always exist. We, a few years ago, had 3.800, at this time we have 13.800 hectares in fruit production at 2018, that is, we have grown in 10 thousand hectares. The final figures are going to have this year with the Fruit Cadastre and next year's Agricultural Census. "

The authority emphasized that "we will continue to grow. At this time, the great limitation that we have is irrigation security for an 40 thousand hectares. If the three reservoirs go ahead (La Punilla, Zapallar and Chillán), we will arrive on the 120 thousand hectares, but there are also the groundwater. And another element that helps a lot is the efficiency with which we are using water, because before we needed a lot more water when irrigation by furrow, compared with mechanized and efficient systems.

By way of context, Bórquez stated that “the O'Higgins Region, which is the main one, has 77 thousand hectares. El Maule has 67 thousand hectares. This process of progress in fruit growing has been moving south and is now passing through Ñuble, therefore, we are going to grow enormously, but we are subject to water reaching us ”.

In that sense, he warned that it will not be a goal that is achieved in the short term. "The construction of a reservoir is delayed between 7 and 10 years. Therefore, I believe that in 12 to 13 years we could have the three reservoirs operational. In that time, the distribution will improve a lot, there are huge losses due to the distribution of water. "

He added that "in addition, with the CNR we want to irrigate around 3.500 hectares in Trehuaco and Coelemu, using the waters of the Itata River that will flow into the sea."

In this process, the seremi postulated, the small farmers have a primordial role, and for this the State will allocate its efforts. "In fact, a few days ago the CNR approved resources to promote fruit growing through Indap," he said.

Financing

For his part, the president of the Association of farmers of Ñuble, Álvaro Gatica, said that the great limitation to achieve that goal is access to financing to finalize investments in fruit orchards.

“I believe that the conditions, like climate, our region has them, absolutely for that goal and more. The big problem for the agricultural world is the issue of financing, and there, if the measures that the government itself said it was going to implement do not come out, with loans from the BancoEstado with a four-year grace period, I see it difficult to comply. But if that comes out, with good rates, competitive at the international level, I think we can meet it because the conditions are there, but I don't see it as easy. We are not asking for subsidies, we only want credits with adequate conditions for fruit trees, and the first five years the fruit trees do not give anything, they are only expenses ”, explained the leader.

Gatica agreed with Bórquez regarding the role of small farmers. "In this development there is space for young and old. Here there are big investors making large investments in walnuts and hazelnuts, but let's hope that this is also transferred to the boy, if the 95% of the farmers are small. "

Similarly, the helmsman of the farmers commented that "we must also understand that the fruit issue is not a panacea, we had a fairly complicated last season, on the subject of prices, specifically in blueberries, so it is not such an option simple as saying 'let's plant, have financing and water, and we are on the other side', we have to do it with the right varieties, with fruit of optimum quality, because we have competition on the side, and they have done it very well, they have to be projects with very good technical level ".

In that line, he said that "technology transfer is basic. Precisely this week, in Chillán the Hazel Committee was created, which is national in nature, and which will be specifically technological transfer. The idea was born in Ñuble and the wing of Fedefruta was called to the groupings of the other zones and they are all in agreement. The Committee is participating in the Maule and Ñuble GTT, the Ñuble Farmers' Association, the SAGO, the SOFO, and Agrichile will be invited to participate ".

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