Platform for the Integral Use of Andean Fruit Trees
The volume of world fruit production has grown around 3% annually in the last decade. Colombia is the fifth fruit producer in Latin America, with more than 95 types of fruit marketed. In Colombia more than 85% of agricultural production comes from small producers where women play a very important role. Andean fruit chains have common problems of price instability, high marketing intermediation with small margins for the producer, limited technical assistance, poorly developed agribusinesses, poor infrastructure, incomplete application of regulations, poor crop planning, inadequate waste management and use of by-products, and lack of standardization of harvest and post-harvest processes, among others.
The purpose of the project was to build a sustainable model of innovation for the blackberry, lulo, passion fruit, guava, and tree tomato chains by empowering small farmers and processors in a Colombian region comprised of southern Antioquia, northern Tolima, Caldas and Risaralda. The project characterized production areas and fruit production systems, including the use of pesticides; promoted organic cultivation of passion fruit, guava and lulo; studied various alternatives for adding value to products and by-products; and established a communication strategy for stakeholders in value chains, authorities and society in general.
The results were implemented through the work of a platform made up of the National University of Colombia, CORPOICA, AKIS and the University of Lleida of Spain and private processing companies such as FRUGY S.A. from Colombia and others.
The technological solution
The project promoted the introduction of a new variety of blackberry without thorns whose yield was four times greater than the national average for the species. It also promoted the cultivation of lulo, with a productive yield more than three times higher than the national average.
Other technological solutions were the substitution of inorganic chemicals for biological products for the cultivation of Andean fruit trees, and the promotion of good agricultural practices. These resulted in efficient pest control, and eventually in the certification as organic products of the fruit pulps processed by one of the agroindustrial companies that participated in the project. In this way, access to a niche market in Europe was obtained.
Other technological solutions consisted in the processing of the products and harvest residues of the Andean fruit trees, so that value was added to them, as well as resulting in new products for the market.
Farmers were supported in the certification of good agricultural practices and organic production for export. The introduction of blackberries without thorns from Castilla and good agronomic management allowed to quadruple yields as compared to the national average. In the case of lulo, a yield of more than three times higher than the national average was found. This species was used mainly for processing.
The replacement of chemical products by those of biological origin was promoted. A 40% increase in the use of biological and cultural controls was observed. With the increase from 10% to 40% in the use of biological regulators, pest problems decreased by 60%, 80% and 80% of the problems encountered in blackberry, lulo and passion fruit, respectively.
The Frugy company achieved the organic certification of its fruit pulps accessing a new niche in the European markets.
Prototypes of products based on different types of fruits and their waste were developed. The herbal teas rich in antioxidants made from the residues of the tree tomato were the best accepted. Also, there was good acceptance of fillings of passion fruit and guava pulps in the bakery industry.
The use of lignocellulosic residues and their potential applications as packaging, vehicle parts, enzyme supports, and construction materials were studied.
Two fruit bars (blackberry and guava) were produced. They are currently in the market under the Conga brand. Other fruit snacks with good acceptance by consumers have been obtained.
Information was disseminated through the project website (957 users and 1,334 visits), 18 mass contact activities, 15 papers, 10 articles, four books, 19 press releases and two videos. 1276 people were trained and an undergraduate thesis, three master's and two doctorate theses were carried out.
It is estimated that some 1,200 fruit-producing families in the Colombian Andean zone may have benefited (400 directly, 800 indirectly). These farmers are among the most vulnerable groups in this area, and are characterized by having large families, where women have an active and sometimes decisive participation in the production process. On the other hand, the results have also benefited the participating R&D institutions, directly and indirectly, with the new knowledge acquired.
Finally, the more than 1,276 people trained in the project have benefited, as well as the consumers of healthy products based on Andean fruits.
Sustainable Development Goals
- Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL) - Colombia
- AKIS - España
- Corporación Colombiana de Investigación Agropecuaria (CORPOICA) - Colombia
- FRUGY S.A. - Colombia
- IRTA - España