Chile: the new benchmark for the growing of black truffle

From being one of the most coveted international spices that did not exist in Chile; now, thanks to the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation and private-company, 300 acres are being grown and by 2025 the industry aims to achieve a production of more than one annual tonne in order to position itself in the international markets.

Until a few years ago it was unthinkable that in Chile truffle could be grown and today is happening – with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) and the Agrobiotruf company seeks to position the crop in international markets, becoming a new alternative agribusiness producers for the Metropolitan area and O’Higgins, Maule, Biobío, Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions.

In this context took place the gastronomic event “The Chilean truffle party” under the framework of the project “Truffles made ​​in Chile: Positioning Chile as a major player in truffle major international markets”, made by the company Agrobiotruf.

The activity was held at Emilia Romagna Ristorante in Concepción, where different dishes with Chilean truffles were prepared for a testing party. They were made specially by chefs from the Italian Food Style Education Culinary Institute.

The activity was led by the FIA executive director, Héctor Echeverría, agriculture SEREMI from Biobío region, Rodrigo García and PROCHILE regional director, Sandra Ibáñez along with top chefs, gourmet specialised press and national producers.

This restaurant will be the first to offer truffles on their menu permanently and to organize black truffle national events each year. Making it the first gastronomic event of this type in the region of Biobío.

Chile was the first South American country to cultivate this species-the first truffles were harvested in 2009 Panguipulli, Los Rios Region-opening a new alternative of agricultural long term business for producers that viewed in this crop a number of advantages compared to traditional ones.

However, one of the limitations was the lack of a crop management system to increase and stimulate the production of national truffle, lack of legislation regulating the exports and imports of a product with certified quality and lack of collaboration among domestic producers .

It is for this reason that the company Agrobiotruf, with the development of FIA project, established an agricultural management that will quickly increase and stimulate the production in national plantations. In turn, the company has already accomplished the first certification of black truffles produced in Chile and the creation of the first Truffle Association of Chile, “which currently has 29 farmers covering an area of ​​60 ha. This allows generating business networks to export our products and be able to qualify for better prices in the international market, “said the coordinator of the initiative, Rafael Henriquez.

In the country there are currently 300 ha of crops and the expected annual growth is of 50-60 hectares of crops per year. It is expected that from 2014 the total annual production will increase in about 30 Kg per year.

“One hectare of black truffle in full production, can generate more than US$ 30,000 annually in returns. The crop has low fertilizer and labor requirements, so it can be an excellent opportunity for agribusiness in the medium to long term, where small and medium farmers can have a good business opportunity by taking advantage of incentives from the irrigation law and, when approved, the new law on forest development, “said the executive director of FIA, Hector Echeverria.

The total amount of truffles produced in 2013 was around 30 Kg. 17 Kg of which were for domestic consumption and 13 kg were exported. The kilo of truffle has a market value ranging between $ 1000 to $ 1500.

In 2014 is expected to reach a total production of 50 Kg. There are already orders for 35-40 Kg to be shipped to Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. markets that purchase for a good price because of counterseason and duty free on the import of these products.

“Truffles, as a gourmet product has no competitor. In Chile, and South America, we managed to cultivate it by developing technology and skills to make this possible. Today we want to share this crop, and by 2025, we intend to achieve a production of more than one tonne per year, “said Rafael Henriquez.

The black truffle of Perigord (Tuber melanosporum) is a mycorrhizal fungus that grows naturally associated with the roots of holm oak (Quercus ilex), oak (Quercus robur) and European hazel (Corylus avellana), on calcareous soils in certain areas of France, Spain and Italy. They are considered among the finest edible mushrooms and have a great reputation in the international gastronomy being in the same category of caviar, saffron and foie gras. It is harvested in winter, using specially trained dogs being carefully removed by the searchers. They grow superficially, in a maximum of 20 inches below ground.

The Regional Director of ProChile Biobío, Sandra Ibáñez, noted that “the export of truffle is an example of what we want for our small farmers since it helps in the development of high-value crops, which offer new alternatives for farmers and they also have a high international demand. ”

(Source: Portal del Campo)