Chilean Program Supports Commercial Management

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Farmers are open to any changes that may enhance their production, reported Olga Gutiérrez Tejeda.


Gutiérrez Tejeda is the president of the Chilean National Confederation Unidad Obrero Campesina (UOC), and director of the Program for the Support to Commercial Management (AGC).

— How was the process of implementation of the AGC Program? When did it start operating in practice?

— The program started in April 2013, with the creation of the technical team and the planning of activities, a job undertaken jointly with the Confederation’s Executive Board. Following that stage, visits to the local leaders of the five regions were scheduled (Metropolitan Region, Valparaíso, O´Higgins, Maule and Bío Bío), to assess the farmers that would participate in this Program.

— What hurdles did you run into?

— So far, the main difficulty encountered has been the lack of instances for the exchange of information relevant to the production and commercial activity among the farmers of each county, and even among regions. In turn, this hinders any potential partnership actions related to trade.

— Were there any facilitating factors?

— When farmers were visited on site, the main factor that facilitated the process was the farmers’ need for commercial advice with respect their production activity. That made them eager to work jointly with the technical team. Another factor that helped develop the program was the active involvement of the local and national leaders.

— How many small farmers and peasants of both sexes are associated to the UOC? How many participated in the Program?

— The members of the Confederation include five thousand farmers, and for its first year, this program is considering one hundred members; the number is decided based on the budget available for this year.

— About how many counseling/advisory activities and training workshops do you organize?

— Each farmer will receive at least two field visits a month for seven months, and at least six training meetings are scheduled along the process.

The first field visits were performed as an in-depth diagnosis of the situation of each participant, devoting an average of six hours for interviews, where farmers explained their daily activities and provided information about their families, also including social and production data, as well as marketing schemes.

This diagnosis is being done in collaboration with the Santiago de Chile University – the Agribusiness Engineering Volunteers, which gathers students attending their last year before graduation.

— Has the Program improved the quality of life of the people that participated in the past and those that are participating now?

—The program is at its initial stage, so we do not have any results indicating whether the farmers’ quality of life has improved at all. Nevertheless, all the activities and methodologies that we want to implement are aimed at promoting positive outputs for them and their households.

— Are there any success stories that you could comment?

— To date we cannot speak of success stories, because it is too early. However, we can say that there is a positive attitude among farmers, who are willing to favor changes that may improve their production-related activities. Specifically in marketing terms, they are interested in identifying business opportunities, together with the technical team.

How did the Program for the Support to Marketing Management get started?

It originated from an activity organized by IFAD-MERCOSUR in 2011, following a request by UNAF; the national director of INDAP had expressly stated the need to develop a Project that was to be presented to FOMIN (under the umbrella of the IADB).

The project was formulated and presented at a workshop held at the Santiago de Chile University, and although it did not end up receiving support from FOMIN, its key contents were finally gathered in a proposal presented to INDAP by UNAF, and has received funding from the former.

That enabled the farmers’ organizations and the federations gathered in UNAF to start a process aimed at building technical capacity to support individual strategies and partnerships.

The ultimate goal is to help rural workers and family farmers improve the marketing of their products both abroad andin domestic markets.

 

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