May 14, 2009
CLOSER TIES BETWEEN CHILE AND WAGENINGEN
At the end of May the president of Chile, Michelle Bachellet, will pay a three-day state visit to the Netherlands. On 27 May, she will visit Wageningen together with Queen Beatrix. The Chilean ministers of agriculture and education, and the president of the Chilean Research council will accompany them to sign an agreement with Wageningen UR.
The Chilean government has got to know about Wageningen research through the efforts of Dr. Peter Zuurbier of the Latin American Desk. Zuurbier helped organize various conferences and workshops in Chile, with input from Wageningen on agriculture, nutrition and bio-energy. Since 2007, when Wageningen UR signed an agreement with Conicyt, the Chilean organization for science and technology, the collaboration has been further expanded with research projects. By now, Wageningen UR has become the Chilean government’s ‘preferred partner’ in various research fields. Chile is the world’s largest fruit exporter, and wishes to strengthen its market position through improved product quality and more variety in its agricultural products. So Wageningen UR and INIA, the Chilean institute for agricultural research, are setting up a Centre for Advanced Horticultural Studies. Also, RIKILT is working with the Chilean inspectorate SAG on increasing food safety, with special attention to dioxins in fruit. The LEI explains to Chilean partners how European guidelines on food quality work, and Wageningen plant scientists pass on their experience in resistance breeding and consumer-oriented breeding to their Chilean partners.
A second spearhead topic is biofuels, and here Wageningen is building on the existing collaboration with the Brazilian research institution Embrapa. AFSG is working with the University of Chile and the Chilean oil company ENAP on extracting ethanol from wood. Joint research has been started on jatropha, and the Social Sciences Group is working with the University of Chile on a biofuels policy. There are a few more projects in fields varying from sustainable fisheries to the development of the flower sector.
During the forthcoming visit, Wageningen UR will sign an agreement with the Chilean ministry of agriculture to support capacity development in Chile. And arrangements will be made with Concicyt for exchanges for researchers in food science. This will mean grants for Chilean PhD researchers and students to the tune of four million euros.