The desertification threatening the country’s central region led SOFOFA HUB to summon five Chilean companies directly linked to the agricultural sector, to jointly raise the challenges associated with water efficiency, to create a collaborative process to search for and select international solutions, and to develop a collaborative pilot of new technologies for this industry in Chile.
In collaboration with the government of Israel, SOFOFA HUB summoned companies in that country to propose solutions to the water scarcity issues faced by the agricultural industry in Chile. The desertification threatening the country’s central region led SOFOFA HUB to summon five Chilean companies directly linked to the agricultural sector, to jointly raise the challenges associated with water efficiency, to create a collaborative process to search for and select international solutions, and to develop a collaborative pilot of new technologies for this industry in Chile. Vina Concha y Toro, Agrosuper, Agricom, IANSA and Hortifrut are the companies that participated in the discussions and that, together with the Israeli Embassy, formed a Steering Committee that met regularly to discuss the water scarcity challenges they have faced, the technological solutions they have considered, and their vision for the future.
With the embassy’s support, the committee issued a summon in Israel among companies and undertakings endeavored to the efficient use of water in the agricultural industry in a context of scarcity. Under the Open Call for Water Efficiency Challenges in Chile, they were invited to participate in the search for possible solutions to the challenges articulated by Chilean companies.
The Australian Embassy subsequently joined the process and also mapped the companies and technologies available in its territory; however, it failed to reach the selection stage due to the global contingency experienced in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Upon issuing the international call, eleven Israeli companies showed interest in the initiative and participated in a Demo Day in Chile, where they showcased their projects, explained their sectors and exhibited technologies that could combat water scarcity. The meeting took place in two stages and was attended by the Chilean Venture Capital Association.
The Steering Committee selected two companies to work on the co-design of collaborative pilots to validate the use of their technologies in Chile and thus increase the water resilience of the agricultural industry in Chile. One is ConserWater, which is developing a pilot with IANSA and Concha y Toro. This company specializes in using satellites and artificial intelligence to predict soil moisture, its nutrients, and carbon levels anywhere in the world, at any times, without the need for a connection. The tests are being conducted separately on the premises of each of the Chilean companies. In the case of IANSA, it is being carried out in fields covering a hundred hectares in Parral and Linares, in the Maule Region, where soil moisture and nutrient level adequacy is being measured via satellites.
In the case of Concha y Toro, work is underway on 10 fields with 21 monitored barracks in the Limari, Cachapoal, Colchagua and Maule valleys. The purpose is to compare ConserWater’s technology with that which is currently used by companies and, if the pilot is successful, replace or use it in a complementary way.
For Alvaro Gonzalez, Director of Vina Concha y Toro’s Research and Innovation Center, “participating in this round table and talking with other companies that face similar challenges –and pains– has been a very positive experience that has enriched our Research and Innovation Center. We have implemented a large industrial pilot, over more than 5 hectares of vineyards in the Maule region, to validate the use of satellite technology to determine soil moisture content; the data is still being processed to obtain its final results, however, it’s such a disruptive innovation that, if it works as we believe, it will be a huge advance in irrigation management, at least for vineyards.”
Agritask is the second Israeli company to conduct pilots on Chilean soil. It is a holistic agricultural operations platform designed to facilitate decision making by integrating technologies, tools and data sources through a system that analyzes and quantifies risks, and generates alerts and recommendations.
The initiative provides an agricultural management digital application through which the entire production process can be handled, with the purpose of automating the work and discarding the use of Excel, for example. Agricom is among the participants of this pilot. “The success of this project lies in that we managed to get several companies that had never worked together to collaborate, share experiences and execute projects together. This is a tangible example of private collaboration to address a country problem,” says Alan Garcia, executive director of SOFOFA Hub.