Home > Chile
Chile Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture, which was the main pillar of Chile's colonial economy, is still important for employment and exports. Nearly one in ten wage earners work with agriculture, fishing, hunting or forestry.
The most fertile soil is found in the central areas and the large river valleys where the soil is well irrigated. Important crops are wheat, corn, barley, oats, rice, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Sugar beets, sunflower seeds and rapeseed are grown for use in the food industry.
Export subsidies have favored the emergence of commercial large-scale farms, based on cheap and mobile labor, with fruits and vegetables as profitable export products. Chile is today the southern hemisphere's leading fruit exporter. Another important commodity is wine. In 2018, Chile was the world's fifth largest wine exporter.
The plains in the south are used as pasture for cattle, sheep and pigs.
Meat exports have become more important in recent years, and they have also started to invest in more exclusive meat varieties, for example from ostrich, which sells well in Asia.
The planting conditions for forests in the south are so good that the pine plantations there grow faster than anywhere else in the world. However, the forest stock has decreased alarmingly rapidly in recent years due to generous felling laws. The share of timber products in exports has risen sharply since the late 1990s, but the forest industry has often come into conflict with environmental groups who are concerned that the natural forest stock is being replaced by rapidly growing imported tree species. Indian groups have protested against the forest companies' intrusion on their traditional lands.
Fishing has also expanded greatly. Chile is one of Latin America's most important fishing nations and one of the world's largest exporters of fishmeal. Concerns about depletion led to new rules in the early 2000s to protect certain species.
Since the mid-1980s, large salmon farms have been built up in southern Chile. The country is also among the largest in the world in terms of salmon, but during the 2000s has had problems with a viral disease that is spread among fish. The 2010 earthquake also caused major damage to canning and freezing plants. Seafood and more exclusive fish species such as turbot have also begun to be grown, mainly for export to countries such as the USA and China.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
3.6 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
21.2 percent (2016)
Piñera wins the presidential election
In the second round of the presidential election, right-wing candidate Sebastián Piñera wins with 55 percent of the vote against 45 percent for leftist Alejandro Guillier.
Right success in the election
Ex-President Sebastián Piñera, the right-wing alliance of Chile Vamo, receives 36.6 percent of the vote, which is worse than expected. Left Bloc New majority candidate Alejandro Guillier gets 22.7 percent and he is set against Piñera in a second election round. The big surprise of the election is the relatively newly formed Breda front whose candidate Beatriz Sánchez gets a full 20.3 percent. Five other candidates share the remaining votes. In the congressional elections, Chile Vamos is progressing well and becoming the largest individual bloc. The parties in the New Majority and the new left bloc Breda front get a total of about as many places as Chile Vamos.
"Pablo Neruda did not die in cancer"
A new expert survey shows that author and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda did not die of cancer. There is no indication of what lay behind the death in 1973, but the investigation of the remains is continuing (see also April 2013).
Proposals for same-sex marriage
President Bachelet presents a bill to give gay couples the right to marry and adopt children. A partnership law was passed in 2015, but Bachelet hopes that the rights of same-sex couples will be taken a step further before her term ends. However, the likelihood is that Congress will not be able to deal clearly with the proposal during the current term, which expires in March 2018.
The Constitutional Court approves abortion relief
21th of August
The Constitutional Court approves, with the votes 6–4, a proposal for relief in abortion legislation that President Bachelet has already submitted in 2015. The Court's trial has been preceded by a lengthy process in congress with several votes, before both chambers voted to lift the total ban on abortion. The change means that abortion is now allowed after rape, at risk to the mother's life and if the fetus is not viable.
Primary elections ahead of this fall's presidential election
In the voluntary primary elections held, ex-president Sebastián Piñera wins by a good margin in the right-wing alliance Chile Vamos, over two other candidates. Beatriz Sánchez gets ready as a candidate for Frente Amplio (Breda front). Left Alliance New majority holds no primary election.
Many convicted of murder of activists
A judge sentenced 106 former intelligence officers to kidnapping and murdering 16 leftist activists in 1974 and 1975, to between 1.5 and 20 years in prison. Many of those now sentenced are already serving prison sentences for other purposes. The judge also sentenced the state to pay the equivalent of $ 7.5 million in damages to the victims' relatives.
Big student protest against reform proposals
Tens of thousands of students take part in this year's first major demonstration for free education, in Santiago. The students feel that a reform proposal presented by the government is not far-reaching enough. After the protests, the Education Committee voted in Congress to send the bill back to the government for rework.
Mass protests against the pension system
Tens of thousands of residents take part in demonstrations around the country demanding that the privatized pension system be torn down. According to the organizers, more than 2 million people take part in the protests. The reform proposal presented by Bachelet in August 2016 has not yet been presented to Congress because there are contradictions in the matter.
Prison sentences for disappearances
The Supreme Court sentenced 33 people to between 5 and 15 years in prison for removing five dissidents in 1987. The five whose bodies are believed to have been thrown into the sea were the last to "disappear" during the Pinochet dictatorship. Among those convicted are two previously high-ranking intelligence officers who are already serving life sentences for other human rights violations.
The water turned off in Santiago
More than 60 percent of the households in the capital are without drinking water after the Maipo River is polluted by heavy rain and landslides. The floods follow the severe fires at the beginning of the year.
Free trade agreements are stopped
US newly elected President Donald Trump put an end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement, signed in February 2016 but not yet ratified by most participants. Chile is one of three Latin American countries in TTP (the others are Peru and Mexico). In total, the agreement, which is now on ice, includes twelve Pacific countries and Asia, which together account for one third of world trade.
Forest fires cause great destruction
Around 150 forest fires destroy 130 square kilometers of forest land in central and southern Chile. President Bachelet sets out a trip abroad to monitor the situation and says it is the largest forest disaster in the country's history. Fires are common during the summer, but now drought has risen longer than usual, probably due to climate change.