In the first days of November, a delegation of approximately 50 people linked to the Prunes Industry Mendoza Cluster (Argentina), mainly producers, visited Chile. Specifically, they toured orchards and processing plants in the VI Region -to the south of its capital, Santiago-, an area that represents over 70% of the production at the country level.
The objectives of the visit were two, says Francisco Araujo, coordinator of said cluster: to generate an exchange and learning around new techniques, innovations and trends that are carried out in Chile, as well as to strengthen ties with representatives of the industry in this country, grouped in Chileprunes, Association of Processors and Exporters of Prunes of Chile, which groups 70% of the exports of said fruit.
“For us, the prunes sector in Chile is a worldwide benchmark, so learning about how they have been working in the orchards and processing plants was very important,” adds Francisco Araujo, who represents a young institution, formed only two years ago.
Some of the topics of interest was that of the super-intensive production of prunes, which implies having 2,000 plants per hectare, while a traditional orchard has between 400-500. While in the first case it can be produced in the third year, in the traditional orchard it is 4-5 years. With some producers, Chile has 7-8 years of experience in this area, with very good results.
Other topics of interest were irrigation and nutrition. In both cases, the implementation of technology in the orchards in Chile, the existing mechanization there, especially with regard to drip or sprinkler irrigation, as well as the package of fertilizers that are used, allow very high levels of production. elevated.
The coordinator of the Prunes Industry Cluster of Mendoza does not want to stop “thanking the authorities and technical team of Chileprunes, who have attended us with a generosity and dedication to support that was remarkable. We have taken a first step of presenting ourselves as a cluster, visiting our peers in Chile”.
The Mendoza Prunes Industry Cluster is made up of 18 public and private institutions, among others, exporters, Chambers of Commerce, cooperatives and, in public matters, the National State, the municipalities of San Rafael and Alvear, universities, among others. “This is a different model than Chileprunes, but it works”, he says.
Its exports are made to around 20 countries, where the focus of recent years has been Brazil and Russia. “With Brazil we work well, there is closeness and an important market. In the case of Russia, it is very difficult to trade, there are some ports that continue to operate with difficulties to which we can make our shipments, but we have also had to redirect exports to nearby countries due to the war.”
Along with the above, a negative aspect has been the pandemic and the cost of maritime freight, which has led to greatly increased costs and reduced profitability. But it also highlights the positive aspects of these last two years: the association that the plum has achieved with the world of health and wellness, as well as its advantages in terms of storage, “these are ideas that must be maintained and promoted,” he says.
All Argentine prunes exports come from the province of Mendoza. It is about 10,500 hectares, although 11 years ago, there were 18,000. 80% of what is exported comes from the south of the province, from San Rafael and Alvear, while the rest comes from the East. 25 thousand tons equivalent to US$ 60 million are exported, figures that correspond to an average of the last 15-20 years.