Chile Conscious Origin, a program from the Ministry of Agriculture closes a year marked by its commitment to the sector’s sustainability. The Agency for Sustainability and Climate Change and representatives from Chileprunes, ChileCarne, and the Dairy Consortium provided a detailed review of the progress made.

Chile Conscious Origin, a program led by the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy (ODEPA) from the Ministry of Agriculture had a successful year promoting the implementation of best practices in the agri-food sector and consolidating sustainability as a differentiation attribute in Chile’s food production. The initiative has become a beacon of hope in a world that is urgently seeking for solutions to the environmental and social challenges.

The Agency for Sustainability and Climate Change (ASCC), which lead the implementation of clean production agreements (APLs, in Spanish) is one of the program’s main supporters. Its Executive Director, Ximena Ruz, talked about the overall impact of the program: “We have a positive opinion; the program not only promotes sustainability, but also strengthens trust in the participating producers, creating an environment of more credibility, transparency, and commitment to these practices.”

The ASCC is working on indicators for the implementation of the practices set by the standard to facilitate business and public decision-making. They also aim at ensuring real collaboration between the various sectors and stakeholders involved in the program by implementing a FOCAL program (to promote quality) supported by CORFO, the Chilean Economic Development Agency.

The agro-industrial sectors involved in Chile Conscious Origin also talked about their main achievements and challenges in 2023. Daniela Álvarez, ChileCarne’s Sustainability Manager highlighted the progress made in the implementation of sustainability standards for pork and poultry production. Measuring greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy management, and other specific measures are driving improvements in the white meat sector. Additionally, numerous facilities are going through the certification process, with plans to scale it up in 2024.

The Dairy Consortium’s Sustainability Coordinator, Natalie Jones, celebrated the certification of 100 dairy farms and the training of auditors certified in the new standard. “We trained nearly 40 advisors, 30 of which work with peasant family farming to continue supporting producers in the implementation and certification process. Our vision is working on the sector’s sustainability from the field to the glass or plate, with a high-grade sustainable product, which can be verified by consumers and the community with specific information. This is a big step that provides certainty in our production process,” Jones explained.

In turn, Chileprunes’ Executive Director, Pedro Acuña highlighted the development of two sustainability standards, one for primary production at the orchard and another one for agro-industrial adaptation at the plant. “This achievement helped us identify the specifics of the sector to find the best options to comply with the proposed standards,” he noted.

But the path towards sustainability has not been without challenges. For ChileCarne, one of the main challenges is the implementation of the standard by small-sized pork and poultry producers, who face difficulties due to the high costs and low gains. Additionally, new Chilean regulations on odor emissions put the continuity of their operations at risk.

Natalie Jones pointed out that for the Dairy Consortium, “the main challenge is to increase the number of producers certified with the standard. This is why next year we will focus on growing this number by creating a portfolio of public and private benefits, designing and implementing an outreach campaign, promoting the certification of the industrial process, and improving management processes.”

In turn, Chileprunes highlighted the need to adapt the training process to the needs of each business sector and searching for financing to implement new technologies. “Our main challenge this year was to carry out a pilot of the proposed standards. We visited producers from all segments and analyzed the protocols’ adaptability to the reality of Chilean industries and the technology gaps to obtain the certification. The process produced significant insight, such as identifying the specific technology gaps of the various segments and the need to provide training adapted to each need, in addition to find financing for the implementation of new technologies,” Pedro Acuña explained.

Looking towards 2024, the agroindustry has ambitious goals for the program. Chileprunes will focus on validating the standards’ contribution to sustainability and disseminating the results. The Dairy Consortium intends to certify both links of the value chain and continue advancing in issues such as water management, waste, energy, animal welfare, and carbon footprint.

“Our goals are to validate the contribution we are making to the country’s sustainability through the changes we’ve already implemented, disseminating those results, and being recognized for them. We have other ambitious goals on the horizon and we are working with partners such as the academia and technical advisors to increase our efficiency and add value to the environment. We strongly believe that sustainability is a path we need to build and we are committed to do it, to be better every day in the different areas of our work,” concluded Daniela Álvarez.

In 2023, Chile Conscious Origin solidified its role as a driver of change in the Chilean agri-food sector, promoting sustainable practices that benefit the industry and society as a whole. Thanks to the commitment of all parties involved, the country is moving towards a more sustainable future in food production.