Entrepreneur grows cherry tomatoes in the Atacama Desert

8 •  Oct •  2020

The entrepreneur from Arica, Pietro Alberti – winner in 2018 of the Luksic Foundation’s contest, Impulso Chileno – is carrying out a feat in the north of the country. As highlighted by Qué Pasa Magazine, Alberti is defying the water scarcity of the Atacama Desert by managing to grow 350 square meters of cherry tomatoes under greenhouse.

Defying the water shortage in the north of the country, Pietro Alberti now has 350 square meters of cherry tomato crops under greenhouse.

Many people didn’t believe him and even closed the door on him because they thought it was a totally crazy idea and impossible to implement, given the lack of water in the area. “It was so much so that they told us that we were telling lies. But as I say, we are 4 crazy ariquenos who dreamed of planting the desert”, says Pietro Alberti and explains that in spite of everything he and his team were not discouraged and continued working to move forward with their project called “Cultivating the most arid desert in the world”.

Despite his enthusiasm and conviction, Pietro admits that after not succeeding in other programs he felt disappointed with the system. Just at that moment, he learned about the new contest launched by Andrónico Luksic: Impulso Chileno. “I must admit that I put all my heart into the application because I already felt it was a last option to seek funds,” he recalls.

This dreamer wanted to show that he could make his idea a reality, that it was indeed feasible. One of the difficulties was the scarcity of water in the area. He made calculations, studied the project and came to the conclusion that in 126 square meters, up to 3,800 kilograms of cherry tomatoes could be planted using only a third of the water required in the drip irrigation system, through condensation of the water in the air. “We had a small prototype of 2 trays and although people could see it and visit us, no one was interested. So our goal was to have a productive module on a scale that we could demonstrate that this did work,” says Pietro.

Objective achieved. The entrepreneur from Arica was able to convince the jury of Impulso Chileno and became one of the big winners of the first version. He received funding to develop his project and training with the Escuela de Administración UC. “The mentoring helped us to focus our business in a better way and at least for me, personally, it helped me grow as a person. We were also able to make the full investment that gave us the possibility of having 350 square meters of cherry tomato cultivation under greenhouse, to be able to take care of our investment and reduce the use of chemicals or pesticides.”

Having learned about the third version of Impulso Chileno, which will keep its applications open until Sunday, October 11, Pietro Alberti makes an invitation: “To all entrepreneurs, I tell them not to give up, the struggle and their perseverance will help them to get where they want to go. For some it is easier and for others it is more difficult, but it all depends on the effort of each one. The best thing about being part of Impulso Chileno is the family that stays by your side, who will always be attentive and support you at all times”.

Pietro is proud to say that it was a year and a half of work where they had to face several difficulties, first the social crisis after October 18 and then the health crisis. At various times they were not able to bring equipment from Santiago and many materials increased in price. “In spite of everything we managed to reach our goal that today we call Hidrodesierto SpA. Today we are growing cherry tomatoes, with 240 seedlings and selling all our production successfully”.

For Alberti, the main advances have been to be able to make his project possible and to demonstrate that it is a contribution for places that suffer with water shortage: “Impulso Chileno was the real opportunity to be able to fight with the challenges of our planet and to feel that we can contribute with a grain of sand”.

In this new edition of Impulso Chileno, the Luksic Foundation will award 100 entrepreneurs with between $3 and $5 million chilean pesos and 6 months of academic support with the Escuela de Administración UC and Corporación Simón de Cirene.

Pietro Alberti

“To all entrepreneurs, I say don’t give up, the struggle and your perseverance will help you get where you want to go. For some it is easier and for others it is more difficult but it all depends on the effort of each one. The best thing about being part of Impulso Chileno is the family by your side that will always be attentive and supporting you at all times.


Pietro Alberti
Winner of Impulso Chileno 2018