Agrotrade 2023: The Role of Genetics in Addressing Climate Change

Agrotrade 2023: The Role of Genetics in Addressing Climate Change

The important role of genetics in addressing climate change was one of the challenges discussed during Agrotrade 2023. Through talks, panel discussions, and a diverse trade fair, the fruit industry got up to date on the current situation and its projections.

Organized by the Chilean Nurseries Association, the 8th edition of Agrotrade brought together over 450 industry stakeholders and authorities to discuss sustainability, genetics, and the latest sector trends at the Monticello Convention Center, 60 km from Santiago, Chile.

Chile’s Minister of Agriculture, Esteban Valenzuela, highlighted, “Agrotrade has made a remarkable reflection because it’s not just about the product itself, which is already good, but also about the entire chain, rurality, innovation, clusters, the role of women, communities, water, resilience, climate change. Therefore, I believe we need to take the time not only to celebrate when things are going well but also to structure agendas that address the challenges.”

“Our main challenge is to contribute with the best available genetics in the world to adapt to the new needs of fruit growing and improve its competitiveness,” said Cristian Pichuante, President of the Chilean Nurseries Association.

Iván Marambio, President of the Fruit Exporters Association (Asoex), provided a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the industry, its challenges, and how to address them. “The numbers will come naturally if we do things right. We have to focus on climate change, water, pests, logistics, the country’s image, and the immense competition that Peru represents for some products.”

Regarding the performance of fruit exports in the last season, cherries were the only ones that showed a significant increase in export volume, representing 97% of the Southern Hemisphere’s shipments to the world. According to Isabel Quiroz, Executive Director of iQonsulting, this industry “is the most qualified to reach its main market, which is China, and premium and super jumbo sizes got the best prices.”

Sustainability and Resilient Agriculture

During the panel discussion on sustainability for more resilient agriculture, Elir Rojas, a geographer and senior associate consultant at the Water Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones in Latin America and the Caribbean (CAZALAC), reviewed how megadrought and climate change have affected the territory in Chile and the role of societal groups that have exacerbated these situations. “Agriculture is inherently resilient, but we need verification means that account for the good practices being implemented.”

In his intervention, Antonio Walker, President of the National Agricultural Society (SNA), emphasized that “Chile should focus on exporting quality, safe, and niche products that allow us to compete in major markets. When we talk about sustainability, it is essential to care for our employees, the environment, and land use. Only 7% of the national land area is used for cultivation, making our agro-silvicultural sector carbon-neutral, and we need to communicate it more.”

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