“About agriculture, the agreement with Brazil was fundamental. In addition to wines and salmon, we made progress in fruit exports to the Brazilian market…”
Esteban Manuel Valenzuela is the Minister of Agriculture of Chile, and was a congressman and mayor of Rancagua. Valenzuela is a journalist and M.Sc in political science from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, M.Sc in public management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D in contemporary history from the University of Valencia.
Chile continues to expand its exports to Brazil. Food exports to Brazil in 2022 moved US$ 1.3 billion, that represents an increase of 21.9% compared to 2021.
AgriBrasilis – What are Chile’s interests in relation to the markets opening in the agricultural sector?
Esteban Valenzuela – In recent decades, Chile has been a country open to the world. We signed free trade agreements with very important countries. One of them is Brazil, with whom we have a free trade agreement in force since 2022, that allowed trade between the two countries to exceed US$ 13 billion and made Chile Brazil’s second biggest trading partner in Latin America.
About agriculutre, the agreement Between Chile and Brazil was fundamental. In addition to wines and salmon, we made progress in fruit exports to the Brazilian market and made progress in the phytosanitary agenda and in agro-industrial investments and research. It is worth highlighting the work of the Institute of Agricultural Investigations – INIA in partnership with Embrapa, that advances in subjects such as agroecology and the reduction of emissions.
AgriBrasilis – What is the situation with forest fires and drought in Chile? What are the consequences for agricultural exports?
Esteban Valenzuela – Climate change affected Chile in such a way that we had to face a long and painful season of forest fires. Climate change, low humidity, arson and high temperatures led to accidents that consumed approximately 430,000 hectares in the center-southern area of the country.
These fires have undoubtedly affected the agricultural sector, but most of them have occurred in areas with forests. We believe that cellulose and wood exports, sector that have shown good growth, will suffer losses.
The effects on the production of fruit for export will be smaller because the areas where the fruit is farmed have not been as affected by the fires.
AgriBrasilis – What is the avian flu situation in the country? What measures are being taken?
Esteban Valenzuela – We have been working together with the industry to minimize the avian flu situation in our country. Thus, we launched the campaign “Let’s Avoid Avian Flu”, that joined the work of the Agricultural and Livestock Service – SAG, that established a close public-private work to mitigate possible negative effects on the poultry productive sector.
AgriBrasilis – How do you evaluate the period of your term of office at the Ministry of Agriculture?
Esteban Valenzuela – The economy and the post-pandemic situation affected us during the period, that is why we emphasized support for our small farmers: we created the “Siembra por Chile” program, that involved an investment of US$ 74.4 million and 13 stages, with the goal of facing the emergency situation and boosting the agricultural and forestry sector.
Among the main measures are the fertilizer programs for Chile, credit for pepper planting, restoration of the native forest (11,280 hectares), new markets for family farmers, credit for irrigation and drainage, and debt settlement of the Institute of Agricultural Development – INDAP.
In June 2022, we formed the National Commission for Food Security and Sovereignty (CNSSA), that made it possible to face the complex international scenario, with measures such as the multidimensional agricultural emergency, the Fogape Food System (system for granting credit), etc.
In addition, we created the “Best Foods of the Season” indicator, that shows the drop in prices of fruits, vegetables and other foods in 9 regions of Chile.