Introduction of Crocus sativus L. in the Chilean desert; a project.


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Tamarugal la cepa autóctona de Chile

Diversification of the agricultural supply in the Tamarugal Province through the introduction of Crocus sativus L. in the Chilean desert.


Jose Delatorre-Herrera, Arturo Prat University – Iquique – Chile

This project funded by the Agricultural Innovation Foundation (FIA) aims to evaluate a new agricultural alternative for the Tamarugal province located in the desert of Atacama of the region of Tarapacá. Agriculture in the area is characterized by being of a family type with small farms. Saffron is a highly profitable crop whose producer price reaches per kg to 3,000 euros. Since its edaphoclimatic requirements are compatible with the characteristics of the Pampa of the Tamarugal, we hypothesize that it is possible to expect yields in terms of quantity and quality according to those obtained in Spain or Iran.

The project proposes to validate technologies and to experiment with new ones; especially it is necessary to study planting times since given the conditions of the Tamarugal pampa it is possible that there may be several harvest times, which would be innovative since in the places where this species is cultivated it is concentrated in two months.

The general objective of the project will be: to diversify the productive alternatives through the introduction of saffron in the soil and climate conditions of the Pampa del Tamarugal.

The specific objectives will be:

(1) To evaluate agronomically diverse cultivars in the edaphoclimatic conditions of the Pampa del Tamarugal.

(2) To multiply saffron corms and increase the growth of corms by in vitro techniques.

(3) To evaluate the post-harvest quality of saffron.

(4) To carry out an evaluation of the profitability of the global crop and propose a business model.

(5) To transfer agronomic and post-harvest and marketing techniques to farmers.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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