Cultivating crops in the driest landscape on earth, barring the polar regions, would be a challenge too far for most farmers. But an indigenous women’s group is harvesting the fruits of Chile’s Atacama Desert – and producing a range of health products from them – with the support of Mainstream.
The entrepreneurial collective Hijas de Nuestra Tierra, or Daughters of Our Land, approached the community development team at Tchamma Wind Farm for assistance in establishing a cacti and aloe vera nursery near Calama, the city in the northern Antofagasta region that’s known as the Gateway to the Atacama.
A grant from Wind Farm’s Social Investment Fund financed the installation of water tanks and irrigation – vital life-giving sustenance in an environment where just two or three millimeters of rain will fall each year.
The first prickly pears, the fruit of nopal cactus, were harvested last month. Long valued in traditional indigenous diet and culture, they are today recognised for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, with some studies suggesting benefits for diabetes management, too.
We are very grateful to Mainstream because they trusted us in the beginning. They understood our project perfectly, and what we wanted to do in the future.
Bottles of the pressed liquor will join a health range of aloe vera products that has been designed and marketed by the women of Hijas de Nuestra Tierra.
With her eyes now set on growing sales, Association President Marcela López, top image, said: “We are very grateful to Mainstream because they trusted us in the beginning and supported us 100 percent all the time. They understood our project perfectly, and what we wanted to do in the future.”
Mainstream Community Relations Leader Natalia Reveco, who worked closely with the indigenous women on project, added: “Our Social Investment Funds are focused on the development of communities and organisations, but they develop on their own terms. They are the ones who prioritise the initiatives, they decide the projects to apply for funding and to work on.”
Words: Sebastián Espinoza, Mainstream Renewable Power, Chile
Tchamma Wind Farm
Tchamma is a 157 MW wind farm project located in Calama, Antofagasta Region, in Northern Chile.
Tchamma wind farm is included in the Cóndor portfolio of projects within the 1.3 GW Andes Renovables Platform. The project consists of 35 turbines and connects to the Pallata substation via a 37 km long transmission line.
The project consists of 35 (4.5 MW) turbines and reached commercial operations date in 2021.
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