Ministry of Agriculture will promote protection plans for raw materials from national artisans

The Minister of Agriculture, Esteban Valenzuelaaccepted a request from the national craft worldwhich for several decades has been threatened to obtain the raw Materials to carry out their traditional trades -vegetable fibers and clay being the most vulnerable-, and undertook to work, through the Institute for Agricultural Development (INDAP), the pertinent agricultural services and sector stakeholders, on plans concrete action to deal with this problem.

The Secretary of State participated this Thursday, together with the national director of INDAP, Santiago Rojas, and the executive director of Conaf, Christian Little, in the inauguration of the “First National Seminar on Raw Materials for Crafts, Materialities at Risk”, which brings together until this Friday at the Montecarmelo Center to cultivators, managers, researchers, teachers, and interested public.

The minister recounted several cases that he has known about the shortage of wheat straw, pita, coirón and horsehair for basketry in various territories, and addressing the audience, he pointed out that “the conclusions that you draw should move us, and that is where conservation comes in, thinking about heritage areas of materials, alliances“.

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He also added that INDAP will continue to promote peasant and artisan markets throughout the country, since “there are regions where there is a lot of inequality and they do not have commercialization places.” He also raised the need to create a National School of Artisans in the future, “where to improve and share knowledge.”

“You have to understand that tradition is also innovation. Let’s see if with INIA and the Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FIA) we can also look for ways not only of access, of alliance to have raw materials, but also to respectfully explore, with tradition, how to have materiality, because the spirituality of doing the work and loving the territories and the beauty you (the artisans and artisans) have it. Here we are together with INDAP to strengthen crafts, a treasure of Chile and the possibility of decent employment for thousands of compatriots”, said Minister Valenzuela.

For his part, the national director of INDAP, Santiago Rojas, stated that “it is time to stop observing and take action. This seminar can allow us to advance in a joint view, discussed, dialogued collectively, that is inclusive, to institutionalize a clear public policy for the sustainability of raw materials for the traditional crafts sector of our country“.

He also said that in the country there are around 7,000 artisans and artisans, 4,900 of whom live in the rural world (74.8% women and 24.2% men) and are supported by the institution, and are an important voice to promote a new development model in the country, where environmental conservation is safeguarded and sustainability practices are promoted.

“We do not want this tradition to be lost”

During the day, a discussion of “artisan voices” was held, where the cultivators Fédima Soto, a basket maker from Chaiguao, in the Los Lagos Region; José Neihual, a woodcarver from Liquiñe, Los Ríos Region, and Georgina Castillo, a basket maker in Coirón de Hualqui, Biobío Region, shared their life experiences and the difficulties they have today to obtain raw materials, due to the activity forestry, mismanagement of resources and the destruction of wetlands, among other reasons.

Georgina Castilla said that she has been working in basketry for more than 50 years, during which time she has been teaching her children and a daughter-in-law, who is her best heiress. “Today it is difficult to get to places where we can collect the raw material, either because of the fires or because they cut down the trees where the fibers we work with are stored, but we will get to where they tell us there is, even if it is very far, because We do not want this tradition to be lost“, he recounted.

Fédima Soto also said that she must go far to find shells for her handicrafts, because “few wetlands are left and what is there is eaten by cattle and sheep“, to which is added all the drying and cleaning work that this vegetable fiber requires.

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José Neihual emphasized that “artisans are not a factory, since a piece requires a whole process that goes from collection to completion, going through a creative look.” In his case, he said that due to the lack of some traditional woods, he had to experiment with other species and rescue logs from the rivers with keys, oxen, and tractors.

Leslye Palacios, executive director of the Fundación Artesanías de Chile, who moderated the conversation block along with Elena Alfaro, director of the UC Handicrafts Program, said that extractivist activity, logging, fires, and livestock production are some of the main agents who are behind the shortage of raw materials and called to join wills to have a public policy on this matter “and return to having paper baskets and other traditional pieces.”

Ministry of Agriculture will promote protection plans for raw materials from national artisans