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2012-13 season

Chile: New markets and irrigation improvements

Within the framework of the ceremony where the certified brand "Fresh Atacama" was launched, the authorities proceeded to certify the brand's first boxes and supervise the shipment of the first export pallet for the US and Asian markets.

Fourteen Coapiapó Valley agricultural entrepreneurs are in partnership with the brand, which was registered at the Ministry of Economy by the organisation that controls it, the Copiapó Valley Producers and Exporters Association (Apeco), with funding from Atacama's regional government and supported by the Agricultural Innovation Foundation (FIA), of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In his speech, the Minister Luis Mayol stressed that the main worldwide markets have opened their doors to this region's products, for goods such as processed and canned olives, apples and other fresh fruits.

He also highlighted some achievements in this matter. "This year we managed to introduce avocados in the Brazilian market; beef, blueberries and unshelled nuts in Korea; nuts and blueberries in China and pomegranates in North America and Colombia. We are trying to open the Chinese market for beef, sheep and goat meat and the Indian market for legumes," he said.

"We are also trying to open emerging markets. We were in Thailand negotiating a Free Trade Agreement that would benefit our sector. We were in Russia putting all our effort into signing a similar agreement in less than a year and we began negotiations for a deal with Indonesia, which would add more than 200 million potential consumers for our products," he stated.

Regarding irrigation, the Minister Mayol openly admitted that a "better use" must be made "of the water in our rivers, because if we could use half of the resources flowing into the sea, we could irrigate four times the current surface."

In this sense, he raised some of the ideas that the government, under Sebastián Piñeda, is promoting for a better use of water. This year, 67,000 million pesos have been invested in irrigation. More than 690 kilometres of irrigation channels have been lined, 40 thousand hectares have been modernised and "we have a plan for the construction of 15 new dams during this decade."

In the Atacama region, irrigation efficiency was improved through the piping of the Copiapó, Tierra Amarilla, Alto del Carmen, Vallenar, Huasco and Freirina channels, giving service to 220 users and covering 1,500 hectares. "Never in history had so much been done for the improvement of our country's water infrastructure," stressed the Minister.

Source: Chile's Government

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