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ProChia Bolivia international visitors: BROCHENIN from France

  • 2016-07-01
  •  CADEX

1.- How did you get interested in Bolivian chia production?

Actually, the interest wasn’t exactly for Bolivia, it was for the Gran Chaco region, because it is the current main chia exporting region of the world. The Gran Chaco includes the north of Argentina, south and north of Paraguay, and the south of Bolivia, which is a unique kind of region for the agronomic point of view.


2.- In your opinion, what is a good quality standard?

It’s a question that I have to answer calmly. For instance, there are the chia seeds for planting and the chia seeds for consumption. The Bolivian chia seeds for planting have a private company that works very well with this specific kind. This is important for the quality of the agricultural production.

The chia seeds for consumption, from the European point of view, come in three different colors: black, white and multicolored. The white chia seed does not sell much in Europe because of it´s high price. The multicolored seeds are the main selling product from Bolivia, and the ones with a higher demand in the European market. Generally, the chia seeds have diverse quality criteria.

The main problems with chia are: agricultural contamination and the cleaning process. With these two problems, Bolivia it´s a great role model for the neighbor countries. Specifically, agro exporting companies from the region of Santa Cruz, Bolivia stand out, for they are the ones that have good cleaning plants and great agronomic knowledge.


3.- Could you tell us about the highlights of your visit to the Bolivian companies?

I was very surprised to see a permaculture type of chia agriculture, which is a very sophisticated agriculture in my opinion. It is a technique that combines trees and shrubs with crops, given that this mix captures the dust blown by the wind and returns it to the ground. I saw it at a gigantic plantation, which impressed me because generally permaculture takes place in small extensions of land. This shows an excellent quality of agriculture.

Regarding the cleaning process of the seeds, the high level of cleaning plants in Santa Cruz, which is not something common in most countries, amazed me.


4.- Do you think that chia’s consumption in Europe will grow?

When you mention the European Union, you include approximately 500 million consumers, in 27 countries, without including England. Thus we’re talking about something heterogeneous and very difficult to answer specifically. Nevertheless in highly developed European countries, chia consumption increases easily 20 to 30% annually, unlike other countries that do not consume chia yet.

Chia seed applications in the European Union were regulated in 2013, so we’re are approaching a brand new market. Now, if we talk about the chia oil and flour, the oil is used by the cosmetic industry because of its price and not yet for consumption, so we have a small market for chia oil.

The chia flour comes in two types: chia flour and milled chia. Their content levels of oil and granulometry differentiate them. Chia flour is the one that has a smaller size of granulometry and a lower level of oil content. Chia flour is still restricted in Europe, but not in the USA; only milled chia is accepted in Europe.


5.- In your opinion, how do you value CSR in chia production?

Personally I think it’s very important, specially in developing countries, to work on CSR.

Besides the actions that a company may take, fair Trade certifications, among others, should be considered. And it´s not only the social side people should look after, there’s also energy, water… sustainable development comes with a wide range of matters to consider.

It would be very interesting if Bolivian producers could make an agreement or a group consultation, to work on similar conditions that could become some kind of certification, or guarantee. For example, to bane child labor, to keep good working conditions, equal pay for men and women, etc. All this conditions become part of and self-certification for an organization or association like CADEX, so to speak.

The truth is that there has not been much done in the world for this matter yet. Fair trade is working quite well, with its own laws and conditions. It’s a small but firm market.

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