Sustainable Agri-Food System Vision for Quillota, Chile
A sustainable agri-food system, that harmonizes with nature and the landscape, keeping ecosystems in balance and enhancing the local economy
The vision of the Ceres Center
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Research and Innovation Regional Center for the Sustainability of Agriculture and Rural Territories - CERES Center
Lead Applicant Organization Type
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
This vision is informed by past and current collaborations with farmers, consumers, authorities, researchers and health institutions.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
The municipality of Quillota, part of the Valparaiso Region in Chile, covers an area of 302 Km^2
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
We have decided to work with the municipality of Quillota because of its management model focused on people's well-being and sustainability. Since 1996, the Quillota mayor's office has aimed at developing initiatives that increase the health and happiness of the population, including also caring for the environment. In this area, initiatives aimed at providing healthy food for the population have been generated, such as the installation of the first regional bio-market for agro-ecological products (installed weekly in the main city square), tax reduction schemes for healthy food businesses, various free instances for the population to exercise and the commitment to plant a tree for each inhabitant of the commune to mitigate climate change, among other initiatives. The CERES Center has been located in the Quillota municipality since its creation in 2011. Since then, it has established a strong relationship to its people, particularly small farmers, who are a significant group within the region and face important challenges that are relevant to this project. During the 2016-2018 period, Ceres carried out activities with 471 small and medium-sized farmers. Currently, work continues with this segment, promoting, through horizontal and participatory methodologies, the adoption of the various methodological and technological solutions that the Center develops around sustainable agricultural production. In the next two years, CERES expects to continue working with these organizations in order to participatively build a Sustainable Local Agrifood Strategy, which is the main aim of its flagship project for the next two years, and continue working on the development of Rural Territorial Planning and Planning strategies at different scales. It is worth mentioning that the City mayor and his collaborators have committed their leading participation in the co-construction with Ceres, of a local sustainable Agrifood system for the municipality.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Quillota is located in the 33rd parallel to the south, surrounded by the low mountains of the Coastal Range and crossed by the Aconcagua river from NNE to SSW; Its monthly average temperatures are between 5,5 and 27°C and theoretically around 350mm of annual rain. The mountains cover 60% of Quillota’s territory, the urban area takes another 5.6% and the rest is a farming-suitable valley.
86.5% of the population live in the urban area; 51% of people are female; 0.9% recognizes aborigine heritage; 93.8% declares to be part of a religion; the average schooling is 9.1 years; and there are over 500 community organizations. Quillota is a small city with a fair male/female balance, little bond to their ethnical roots and detached from the educational system, but with a strong commitment to religion and community links.
Agriculture is, after commerce, the most important economic activity in the region, accounting for 21% of employment.
There are nearly one thousand crop fields. Small and medium size orchards account for 83% of total producers and represent less than 5% of the total productive land. These farmers cover most of the local demand, however, they tend to focus on vegetables as they require smaller investment and provide sooner ROI. Quillota is one of the main producers of lettuce and tomato.
Larger companies tend to focus on fruits and aim at foreign markets to achieve better prices, leaving discards to the national market. Quillota is renowned by its avocado, custard apple and citrus.
Daily routines in Quillota include breakfasts (tea or coffee for adults, milk for children and bread with butter and ham, cheese or jam on it), a heavier lunch (a whole dish, sometimes salad and a sweet drink), and tea time (similar to breakfast) and/or lunch-like dinner in the late afternoon.
Many traditional preparations are combinations of potato, sweat corn, meat (beaf, chicken or pork) and spices; onion, tomato and rice are usual additions. Lettuce is the base of salad, although the ´Chilean way salad´ - born in the Valparaiso Region- is made of tomato, onion and coriander. A popular option for fast food is the “Completo”, a hot dog including tomato, avocado and mayonnaise.
Automation technologies for farming (mainly monitoring platforms) are slowly being adopted by medium and large companies.
Delivery platforms are the most recent innovation and have been well received by many people. However, these platforms link consumers with restaurants and supermarkets. The bridge between farmers and consumers is still to be improved.
Since 2014, the local authorities have organized a special market for organic and clean farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers.
Additionally, the Municipality is enforcing regulations to promote healthy meals in public schools, forbid the commercialization of unhealthy food near schools or in public events and lower taxes for shops who sell healthy food.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Annual rain has been dropping gradually for the last decade from a historical average of 350mm/year to critical 78mm in 2019. This has forced some fields to be left to dry..
The concentration of medium and large companies in a few high-profit products is affecting the entire regional landscape as the surrounding mountains are being covered by monoculture fields, reducing the space for natural environments.
The traditional methodologies based on chemical products have been widespread with little control, leading to an overuse of toxic products, reaching an average of 10.7 kg/ha of pesticides, over 5 times the 2.1 kg/ha used by the rest of the OECD countries. The excess is polluting the air, rivers, aquifers, soil and food.
Only 13.5% of the population live in rural areas, mainly due to lower wages and the prospect of a more attractive way of life in urban areas. Along with this, people have lost connection with their roots and identity.
Poverty reaches 14% in Quillota, however, the rate in rural areas is double than in urban areas. 65% of fields have a surface of less than 5 hectares, most of them owned and laboured by single families, with intermediaries who tend to capture most of the market value of the products.
Agriculture accounts for 21% of employment, however, wages are significantly lower than in other sectors, which partially explain a lack of skilled workers available.
Exports of agricultural products have grown 100% every 10 years for the last two decades and are expected to keep growing. As a counterpart, imports have compensated by growing four times since 2002. The effect on consumers is a poor diversity of food and the need to adapt their diet by buying imported products with more preservatives, higher price and bigger footprint.
DIETS & HEALTH
Chile has one of the highest rates of overweight and obesity globally with 74.2% of the population in those ranges, including 32% of children under 6 years old.
Mortality due to Cancer in Quillota is higher than the rest of the country, being Gastric Cancer the main cause.
Despite this, less than 1% of the food grown is organic or clean production and local communities see very little of it despite some efforts.
Although some useful technologies are being adopted by medium and large companies, smaller farmers do not have the means to do the same, also because of their low schooling level, which makes it more difficult for them to adopt new technology.
Even though Quillota has been successful in putting in place regulations and programs for its people to access healthy food, there is still much to be done at both local and national level in order to solve the aforementioned issues.
Finally, due to all of these problems together, the people in Quillota see little value in their local produce, which they know is contaminated and unfairly traded, meaning they would easily shift to processed food as an attractive alternative.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Robust regulations will focus on reducing agro-chemicals related pollution (via higher taxes, fines and other means); lowering taxes to environmentally friendly / water saving / locally focused / diversified farmers; and limiting the food supply for schools, hospitals and public events to only clean produce and clean produce-based catering.
Regulations will also cover a thorough strategy for the distribution of the territory and its resources (water included), aligned with national incentive schemes for large and small farmers to aim at covering the local market with high quality produce without affecting the natural landscape and the environment.
The reduced use of agrochemicals will help decreasing pollution and health issues, thus lowering costs in the public health system.
Further scientific studies will analyse the potential relationship between the current productive system and health issues. Awareness campaigns will be put in place to make people aware of the results and the alternatives available.
Cooking recipes will be developed to suit every season and advertised as part of the awareness campaigns to help people keeping healthy diets and adapting to new ingredients.
The new recipes will be cooked in schools and educational programs will include school farms as well as visits and voluntary works at farms for children to understand the processes and make relationship to the places where their food is grown.
Short supply chains will allow farmers to provide their produce directly to consumers, capturing a bigger share of the value of their produce by eliminating the need of an intermediary.
Agro-ecological methodologies will be developed and widespread for farmers to reduce their need of machinery and chemical inputs, adapt their crops to a drier climate and diversify the products they grow.
New distribution technologies, aimed at linking directly farmers and consumers or buyers like hotels, restaurants, catering companies and others, will help building short supply chains in a modern way, similar to current delivery technologies that link restaurants and supermarkets to consumers. Such technologies will hold the potential for farmers to collaborate to fulfil clients’ requests, organize exchanges and other forms of cooperation.
Technology development aiming at enhancing the territory’s capacity to gather, store, distribute and use the water in a smart and fair way will be supported by public agencies and academia.
Other technologies will expand and unify the monitoring of diverse factors in most fields in the whole region to allow farmers to understand the relationships between the factors up to a level where threats can be identified timely for them to react on time. The relationships between the factors will need to be fully validated by scientific efforts before they can be widespread.
Regulations and programs will support the implementation of these solutions as previously mentioned.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Thirty years from now, Quillota will be a completely different place. Food will be in the core of its identity and people will be proud of being part of a community where healthy food is grown in close relationship to consumers. Children, hospital interns and all those who depend on government agencies to feed themselves will be well taken care of and the whole territory will enjoy clean air, water and soil, and a beautiful natural landscape all around.
In the rural areas, population will have recovered and people will enjoy a better quality of life with a boosting rural economy, better wages and less or no poverty at all. Lack of skilled labour will not be a problem anymore as workers will be available and technology will support the hardest labours. People will have strengthen their connection to their place and history, reviving the “old people’s ways” as the principles of agro-ecological methodologies tend to remind them of the way their grandfathers managed their crops.
Short supply chains will give farmers a sense of usefulness and responsibility as they will be able to see the faces of people who eat their produce. Consumers, on the other side, will fell bounded to the people who grow their crops as they will have visited them as children and later in different occasions and will have a better understanding of the products they grow and the methods they use.
New technologies will facilitate the distribution of products and diets will be more diverse, new products and preparations will replace fast food and new flavours will enrich our feeding experiences.
Within thirty years, Quillota will not be a place of illness anymore, it will be a place of joy, full of visitors who come to experience a more natural way of life visiting our farms and trying our preparations.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Improving the conditions for farmers to sell locally as mentioned in the previous answer will reinforce the competitiveness of local markets against foreign markets, encourage clean and diverse production, reduce pollution and its effect on the environment and population, and secure healthier food for the children, hospital interns and people who attend public events.
The reduced use of agrochemicals will help not only decreasing pollution and health issues, thus lowering costs in the public health system but also reduce farming costs and bring better results to farmers off their produce.
Enhancing local trade may lead to a reduction of export, which would be balanced by a reduction in imports. Thus, the overall food carbon footprint will be reduced significantly.
Distributing the territory and its water and other resources in a fair and smart way will allow all stakeholders to interact in a more organized way, facilitating traceability, diversification and optimization of resources while safeguarding the natural landscape, which may lead to the development of new activities such as tourism.
People will be aware of the characteristics of the food they eat, they will know which crops are available at every season and will their diets adapted accordingly. People will also have an understanding of how crops are grown and will be able to choose between traditionally grown or ecologically grown products. Furthermore, people will be able to identify where each product was grown and visit the places they like.
Publicly available information about new crops will allow people to learn more about the whole food process, nutritional facts and the food’s relationship to health.
Children will form a relationship to farms through educational programs at schools that will include keeping a school farm and visiting productive farms throughout the year. Youngsters will be able to participate in voluntary experiences at particular times of the year when labour is more needed and scares. Adults will be able to visit farmers who open their doors to visitors for educational or touristic visits.
All these experiences will strengthen the relationship between consumers and farmers, facilitating short supply chains and boosting the local economy. A healthier rural economy will leave more room for better wages, inspiring the repopulation of the countryside.
Short supply chains will allow farmers to provide their produce directly to consumers, capturing a bigger share of the value of their produce by eliminating the need of an intermediary. This way, the local market becomes more competitive, reducing the need to find better prices abroad, keeping similar profit while feeding the local communities.
The currently poor conditions of smaller farmers will be less so as the short supply chains and new regulations will allow them more profit, thus the possibility of offering better wages, reducing poverty levels in rural areas and recovering its population. Automation technologies will make it up for a part of the missing workforce, making it available via public funds like those available in the present through INDAP, CORFO and other public agencies.
Agro-ecological methodologies will be developed and widespread for farmers to reduce their need of machinery and chemical inputs, adapt their crops to a drier climate and diversify the products they grow.
This will enable farmers to grow healthier and more diverse food and at the same time reduce the need of heavy machinery and external inputs, adapt their productive systems to a drier climate, recover the landscape and the harmony between agricultural production and the natural processes, while restoring the natural characteristics of currently degraded soil. They will help securing that not only the agricultural activity is sustainable, but also the whole territory.
The crops diversification will take into account the draught and propose methodologies for new crops to be grown in Quillota. The new crops will be suitable alternatives for currently grown crops, so traditional dishes can still be prepared and diets only change towards diversifying with healthy options, shifting away from processed and fast food.
As a result of more diverse and healthy diets, health related issues like overweight, obesity and others will tend to diminish to the benefit of people and the whole health system.
Technology development will be supported in several areas. Direct commercialization and distribution innovations will reinforce the short supply chains; water technologies will be implemented to maximize its availability and optimize its use; standardized monitoring technologies will help farmers and policy makers to have a permanent view of not only specific farms but the whole regional view, allowing them to understand interconnections between different factors and the effect of an action in the rest of the region. This public tool will enable local authorities to organize and distribute the use of resources to help securing the successful harvest of all produce in a timely manner.
Regulations and incentives have been mentioned as support for the previous themes. In addition to those, policy makers will continue to collaborate with local communities to encourage healthy diets, physical activity, community engagement and people wellbeing.
Our vision aims at implementing a Local Sustainable Agri-Food System for the municipality of Quillota, which is a territorial system that reflect the networks between agricultural production, services and consumers, associated with this specific territory, its environment, its communities, its culture, food behaviors and its institutions. The main characteristics of this system are the valorization of local products, the key role of small and medium producers, the orientation of production to domestic consumption, distribution at local level and production under agroecological principles. This Sustainable Local Agrifood Strategy is relevant to the reality of the rural landscape and communities in Quillota and is being developed with high participation of the actors in its implementation process.
This strategy looks at strengthening the sustainability of agriculture and rural landscapes and integrate the social, environmental and economic dimensions.
The process of participatory development of the Local Agrifood Strategy, with the rural actors of the municipality of Quillota is expected to increase their social capital, generating networks with diverse objectives, among rural actors (trade, production, education, recreation, etc.). Participation is understood as a collective construction, in which the participants are not only consulted, but take part in the decisions of the process, being they who articulate the planning of proposals, the management of resources, the execution of activities and the evaluation of projects.
On the other hand, it aims at generating a dialogue between community knowledge and scientific and technological knowledge developed by CERES. This dialogue will make sense of the proposal, under a territorial and systemic approach. It is expected that the implementation of this vision will be a rather long process, which requires the modification of the current practices and behaviours associated with the production, transformation, commercialization and consumption of food, as well as the support of policies and regulations that support the proposed initiatives.
Once the vision is in place, the life of all people in the municipality of Quillota will directly or indirectly have been improved. Farmers who adopt the ecological production methods will be benefited from a cleaner, safer and healthier process, that’s less intense in the use of external inputs, reducing their dependence and cost. At the same time, they will have built collaborative networks to distribute and sell their produce with better prices, all of which is translated into better quality of life for the farmers, their workers and families. Those who do not adopt the ecological methods can be equally benefited by the short supply chains and take part in the collaboration networks that will give them better access to local distribution and customers. Also, a better territorial planning regulation will help organizing and distributing the resources more fairly, which should benefit not only farmers, but also other industries in the territory. The more farmers adopt the ecological productive system, the cleaner the territory will be from agro-chemicals in the air, soil, water and food. It is expected that the number of cases of related diseases should diminish and the whole landscape should improve from the growing of a wider variety of crops. The ecological process should also have an impact on the quality of soil, including its capacity to retain water, meaning that the water requirement should also diminish, making the whole region more resilient to climate change. Finally, the whole population of the municipality of Quillota will be benefited by the aforementioned environmental impacts and also by the access to healthier and more varied food as well as a more direct relationship to the farmers.
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