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Chile’s fruit and berry exports could drop dramatically if it does not solve water problem

EastFruit reports that the Chilean fruit sector is facing a very difficult task - to urgently reduce water consumption without increasing the cost of producing fruit and without deteriorating their quality.

The drought of 2019 sharply exacerbated this problem, which has long held back the further growth of the fruit and vegetable industry of this South American country. The Chilean government even declared a state of emergency in agriculture for states such as Coquimbo and Valparaíso, and is likely to declare it in the state of Biobío.

According to local producers, the 2019 drought will affect, first of all, those fruits that will be harvested from January to March. The least affected crop of blueberries and cherries. Chile will begin exporting blueberries in November, and the harvesting and export season will last until March-April. True, in March-April a significant part of the berry will be exported from refrigerators. The cherry export season will also begin in November, but will end in January.

Harvests of peach, nectarine, plum and table grapes will suffer a little more from the drought. At the same time, the harvest of early varieties, harvesting of which begins in December, is likely to be no worse than a year earlier.

The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association is already actively working on plans to increase water efficiency, without harming the fruit business. In particular, we are talking about investments in the technology of the desalination of sea water, as well as about the prospects of building dozens of large water reservoirs for the accumulation of fresh water, which could be more effectively used for irrigation of crops.

However, all these plans are long-term, and the problem must be solved now. But there is no solution to this problem yet, which means that there will not be enough water for irrigation at all. Therefore, almost all market participants predict a decrease in the export of Chilean fruits, especially apples, grapes and kiwis, in 2020.


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