Chile's fruit industry addresses key steps to change

February 22 , 2011

In a recent field day Chile’s fruit industry authorities, business leaders and employees met to discuss key issues facing the sector; exchange rates, finances, labor laws, the country’s image, irrigation and connectivity.

Chile’s fruit union Fedefruta organised the event in the country’s VII region (Maule) across two farms – one traditional and one modern – to highlight the industry’s potential.

Jose Antonio Galilea, Alvaro Cruzat and Antonio Walker

Agriculture minister José Antonio Galilea said he would like to see modern fruit production all over the country, but conceded there were many obstacles to overcome.

“We have let too much time to pass before worrying about the agricultural sector,” he told Freshfruitportal.com.

“Seeing these examples establishes a goal for the public and private sectors – a goal to reach.”

On the topic of exchange rates, Fedefruta president Antonio Walker appreciated the Central Bank’s intervention in currency markets to devalue the Chilean currency, but called for ‘other steps’ to help the modernization of agriculture.

He emphasized the need for 20-year loan access for growers and called on people to ‘take the fight to the bank’, adding that it should not be an allowance but a ‘good credit’.

Walker also highlighted the need to adapt labor laws to the needs of agriculture, with aims to achieve a national benchmark in which the parties involved can all feel ‘comfortable’. He pointed out the situation of unfair competition between growers, while also calling on the need to formalize employment in the sector.

He said some agricultural companies lowered their costs by not paying unemployment or disability insurance for employees.

Walker said the industry would neet to focus more on Asian markets, as well as north African and Middle Eastern nations like Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

He also addressed the need to introduce irrigation technologies in areas where farming already exists, before ‘thinking of reservoirs’.

On the topic of connectivity, Walker said more resources were needed in rural areas to improve education and electrification.

See more exclusive photos from the event

Source: www.freshfruitportal.com

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