In the context of the health crisis caused by Covid-19, the Agricultural Research Institute (INIA), with the support and financing of the Regional Government of Los Ríos and the Seremía de Agricultura, continues to support more than 180 small producers to supply the community of healthy foods, which strengthen the immune system of the population.

The Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA), since 2015 leads a project that has successfully articulated various entities linked to agriculture, which joined with the objective of strengthening the agroecological and organic production of small and medium producers in the Region of The rivers. In 2020, social isolation as a preventive measure to deal with the global health situation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, led to the suspension of training in the field that was transferred to the virtual field in order to continue the technical support of farmers.

Sigrid Vargas, researcher at INIA and in charge of the project developed in the Los Ríos Region, explained that a 'remote technical assistance service' has been implemented. “The idea is that when faced with any problem that producers have on their farms and in their production systems, they make it available with audiovisual support, photography or video through WhatsApp groups. We process the material and send a formal response in the same way, "he said.

He added that "in parallel, primers have been designed that detail through text, photographs and graphic information, the different issues relevant to the development of the item, a methodology that allows continuing training and also protecting people's health." This is how they have developed, together with virtual accompaniment, different technical sheets that "reinforce what was taught through the screen," he said.

Farmers, meanwhile, positively evaluate the new methodology. Nelly Ríos Ojeda, from the Contracoronel sector in Río Bueno, said that “the advisers give us recommendations on everything we can do, if we get a plague or disease, they tell us how we can solve it. At a distance it has been a job a little unknown for us, but we have learned to handle it ».

These virtual activities that for now complement the field work, allow to continue with the execution of this program led by INIA that contribute to food security, nutrition, food availability and the resilience of crops.

José Vallejos, INIA agronomist and project advisor, highlighted “the work carried out by farmers in the context of the need for a safe and healthy diet for the population. “Foods that are produced in an agroecological way can contribute to the immune system, which is of greater importance in a situation like the current one in which this pandemic that threatens public health occurs, considering that these crops are configured as a healthy and varied offer in scenarios where food and health safety are very relevant ”.

About INIA

The Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) is the main institution for agri-food research, development and innovation in Chile. Linked to the Ministry of Agriculture, it has a national presence and a work team of more than 1,000 highly qualified people. It executes an average of 400 projects per year around 5 strategic areas: Climate Change, Sustainability, Food of the Future, Emerging Technologies, and Extension and Training of Capacities. These initiatives contribute to the sustainable agri-food development of the country, creating value and proposing innovative solutions to farmers, strategic partners and the population, generating a social profitability that varies between 15% and 25%, for each peso invested in each of their projects.

INIA, more than 55 years leading the sustainable agri-food development of Chile.

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More information: Sigrid Vargas, INIA researcher and project manager. e-mail: svargas@www.inia.cl
Cell. +56 9 7706 5460