Scholar Profile - 2022 Winner

Victor Muñoz - Chile

Study: The economic productivity of water

Victor Muoz, from Coquimbo in Chile, is awarded the 2022 Nuffield International Scholarship supported by PSP Investments and the Chris Reichstein Philanthropy Fund.

As an Agricultural Engineering graduate from the University of Chile, Victor was also one of 24 individuals awarded a scholarship to complete a Master's in Water Management in arid and semi-arid zones at the Universidad de La Serena.

Victor is currently Area Manager at FruitSpec, an Israeli start-up company that has developed early season technology to predict yield and calibres for the fruit crop industry. Victor is responsible for developing FruitSpec's Chilean market as well as managing a technical and sales team that currently oversees more than 700 hectares of citrus, apples, stone fruit and table grapes.

For his scholarship, Victor is focusing on the economic productivity of water, which is pertinent due to sustained droughts in Chile in recent years that have affected yields and even caused the decline of some orchards. Victor says some growers have moved to more speciality and profitable fruit crops that have higher water needs.

"More specialised, profitable fruit crops are more sensitive to water scarcity, so growers need to think about the economic productivity of water use expressed in revenue terms, especially in my region of Coquimbo where agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors and the biggest water user", he says.

"Growers of table grapes, citrus, avocados, walnuts, olive oil and even producers of pisco - a Chilean liquor - have applied different strategies for managing drought but all make their own business decisions without a larger, industry wide strategic water plan".

"I would like to visit the Water Research Centre in Washington State, which has studied the economic productivity of water on different crops, and also California, which is dealing with water scarcity".

Victor sees himself as a future leader in water management for agriculture purposes in his region, helping growers make better decisions in partnership with research centres, universities and regional government departments. He is also eager to develop his international network.

"I applied for a Nuffield International Scholarship as it is a great opportunity to build my research network and learn from global, experienced agricultural professionals who understand water use in the fruit crop industry and bring these learnings back to my region".

Victor enjoys running and the theatre - he was an amateur theatre teacher at Club Deportivo Santa Fe de San Miguel.

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