Truckers' strike in Chile could halt fruit harvests

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Truckers' strike in Chile could halt fruit harvests

The freight strike in Chile continues to negatively impact the produce industry, with no end date in sight. As of Monday, the government and the various truckers' unions have not reached an agreement.

According to Iván Marambio, president of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), growers are considering stopping the harvests because cold storage plants are completely full. This would mean at least 200,000 people could lose their jobs. 

Marambio told that the situation is serious, since the ports of Valparaíso and San Antonio, together with the container depot, are obstructed and therefore cannot operate. 

"In the case of the cherry industry, harvests last a month. We are talking about exports for $2,000 and in terms of direct effects it reaches $500 million, without counting the people who live from this industry, which total between 200,000 and 300,000 thousand people.  Therefore, the overall loss for the industry per week is $500 million", says Marambio.

While the blockade continues, truckers from the Valparaíso Region have withdrawn from the strike, according to the executive. However, the situation remains dire.

The president of the National Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta), Jorge Valenzuela, said that more than 8,000 containers are scheduled to be shipped this week. 

"There were already 1,700 containers that could not be loaded last week, 30 million kilos of cherries, which come from 2,500 hectares of mainly  small and medium producers," said Valenzuela.

Meanwhile, Juan Pablo Matte, general secretary of the National Society of Agriculture (SNA) stated that "the world of transportation has obvious relations with agriculture and the world of food, it is important to dialogue (...) We are at a critical moment of losing vegetables, fruits, markets and credibility at international level, in addition to losing the food security of our population".

ASOEX is working on concrete measures to bring fruit to the ports. They are promoting actions together with social organizations, exporters of all sizes, producers, farmers, operators and shipping lines and ports.

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