Chile - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Machinery and Equipment

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data

Last published date: 2022-01-25

Overview

Agriculture is one of the main economic activities in Chile accounting for 28 percent of total exports and 11 percent of total GDP. Approximately 10 percent of the country’s labor force is engaged in agriculture and related services. Chile’s economy is driven by exports and the country is one of the largest agricultural and food exporters in the world including fresh fruit, wine, forestry, meat, dairy, and fishery products. Because of the country’s location in the southern hemisphere, agricultural production is counter-season for the main consumer markets in the northern hemisphere. The extensive network of trade agreements, among them the U.S. - Chile Free Trade Agreement, allows preferential access of Chilean products to approximately 86 percent of global GDP. Chilean consumers, as well as those in countries that import Chilean products, increasingly look for green farming products that are healthy and sustainable. Therefore, the agricultural sector’s goal is to achieve a circular agriculture system by further incorporating the highest standards of agriculture processes, non-chemical soil health, waste management, recycling, and re-use of resources.

Chile is vulnerable to impacts of climate change including droughts, floods, landslides, and wildfires that impact the agricultural sector. Chilean agriculture uses 72 percent of the country’s scarce water resources and will need to lower water usage if the availability of the water continues to decrease. The country is experiencing a historic 12-year drought that has caused an increase of land desertification and a record average water deficit of 75 percent.  The drought affects the entire country in different degrees, however, the impact is worse in northern and central Chile. In southern Chile, farmers have invested in irrigation projects to maintain production levels during the dry summers where new technologies have facilitated ground perforation at deeper levels and extraction of larger volumes of water-depleting aquifer. Consequently, the state is evaluating policies to restrict the use of aquifer resources. 

Over the last several years, labor availability has become a challenge with workers opting for better paying and less intensive jobs. According to the Chilean Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta), the scarcity of workers is becoming critical due partly to the state’s social subsidies as a response to the COVID 19 pandemic. A poll conducted by Fedefruta reported that half the consulted farmers estimate a decrease in the availability of labor for the upcoming September – March harvesting season of between 50 percent and 70 percent. Foreign workers, a key source of labor during harvest season, are unable to enter the country due to pandemic travel restrictions. The challenge for farmers and farming conglomerates is to increase productivity through precision agriculture, technological processes and mechanization, higher sustainability, and a reduction and more efficient use of water resources.

Agriculture machinery and equipment from the U.S. has a reputation for quality and is perceived as reliable and designed for intensive and long-lasting use. U.S. advanced technology and innovation are also well-recognized. However, the Chilean market is small and competitive, and U.S. imports represents 8 percent of the market compared to China’s 29 percent market share. A drawback for U.S. made machinery and equipment is the size of some equipment, especially in cereal production, is designed for large farms and high production volumes. Most farms in Chile are small with small production volumes that better match European designed and manufactured machinery. Since the cost of energy is one of the highest in Latin America, energy efficient equipment is required for Chile to reduce production costs and remain competitive in the international market. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, raw materials and shipping costs have increased, impacting the price of most equipment and tools used in agriculture production.

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 estimated

Total Local Production

12.0

12.0

10.5

9.0

Total Exports

9.0

7.4

9.0

7.5

Total Imports

443.5

524.4

690.0

600.0

Imports from the US

83.5

67.9

55.0

65.0

Total Market Size

446.5

529.0

691.5

601.5

Exchange Rates: 1 USD

641

770

790

 

(Total Market Size = (total local production + imports) – exports)
Units:  US$ millions
Source:  Thomson Reuters Chile/Chilean Customs

Leading Sub-Sectors

Water

  • Irrigation infrastructure is required to maximize efficiency of water usage.
  • Highly efficient and cost-competitive irrigation systems, water-saving devices/systems
  • Water storage and water transportation systems and supplies. For example, canal linings, tunnels, and underground reservoirs. Large water storage systems that can replace water reservoirs are a good prospect. Systems for water transportation and storage; rain-harvesting and storage technologies

Smart technology

  • Smart agriculture machine learning devices for agriculture processes such as planting, watering, fertilizing, and collecting data
    Precision agriculture equipment and products
  • Agriculture production data collection, processing/analyzing and transmission.
  • Equipment/drones to monitor production conditions, propose improvement processes, and increase crop yield; drones to act on detected challenges (for example, apply pesticide when detecting specific pest/disease)
  • Equipment, systems and supplies to obtain traceability of crops

Machinery

  • Mechanization of agriculture processes including fresh fruit harvesting equipment and other machinery to replace labor
  • Post harvesting processing equipment
  • Energy efficient machinery and equipment (decrease energy consumption)
  • Environmentally friendly machinery and equipment (reduce impact on environment and provide higher sustainability)

Others

  • Natural, non-chemical fertilizers and pesticides
  • Natural soil enhancers; natural products for soil and animal health
  • Non-chemical aids for agriculture production
  • Urban agriculture supplies and systems
  • Organic production-related technology/supplies

Opportunities

In 2020, the government approved an increase of 9.1 percent for the Ministry of Agriculture budget, the highest ministerial budget increase, to finance the construction of water dams and partially subsidize qualified irrigation projects. The Ministry of Public Works (MOP) will invest $6 billion for the construction of 26 reservoirs across the country. The construction of water dams takes an average of 15 years from the time of its design until construction is finalized, due to a lengthy bureaucratic process that includes environmental impact studies and authorizations from several government agencies and ministries. To streamline the permit process, legislation is under consideration to expedite permits for critical infrastructure construction. Desalination is well developed in Chile, especially in northern Chile to supply cities and for mining activities. Discussions are being held to build desalination plants as an alternative for agriculture use.

Chile is open to innovative technologies to replace scarce and high-cost labor and improve water efficiency usage. Automated equipment such as unmanned tractors (for planting, harvesting, fumigating, and weed removal), and robot/workers are being used and the market is eager for new and improved generations of robotic equipment. Drones are being used to fumigate, apply pesticides, and collect data on soil condition, hydro availability, harvest conditions, and fertilizer presence. Next generation drones with improved capacity to act on detected problems will do well in the market. The current market for specialized and energy efficient machinery and equipment is a best prospect since, in addition to reducing labor, saves energy and lowers production costs. Productivity has improved in recent years but needs additional improvements using higher efficiency machinery, green technology, irrigation systems, natural fertilizers, and soil enhancers.

Chile’s agriculture is focused on sustainability, traceability, and on production of products that comply with the standards of the ‘Chile brand’. Organic production continues to increase and have a good local and international market, increasing opportunity for natural fertilizers and pesticides. Chile’s agriculture production aims at being as green as possible to obtain better value for its exports while contributing to a healthy and sustainable environment. Urban and vertical agriculture have not yet developed, but there are opportunities for those systems and products to be introduced.

Resources

EXPO CHILE AGRÍCOLA, 2022 Dates TBA

Organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, MINAGRI, this virtual event brings together private and public agriculture sector players (small, medium, and large scale), and is a technical and educational instance to facilitate interaction between ag related suppliers, farmers, universities, and international entities.

FRUITTRADE 2022, 2022 Dates TBA, Santiago, Chile

FruitTrade is focused on fruit and vegetables production and exports. The event brings together producers, exporters, suppliers, and international buyers of fresh fruit, dried fruit, vegetables, and organic products. FruitTrade 2021 will include an in-person international convention featuring technical seminars on trade, technology, production, innovation and management, at Casa Piedra Convention Center in Santiago, and a virtual business roundtable.

SAGO FISUR 2022, March 2022, Osorno, Chile

Sago-Fisur trade show, whose first version took place in 1917, focuses mainly on dairy and livestock, and regional fruits/berries production. The event is attended by suppliers, distributors, and service providers related to the agriculture sector, and includes technical seminars, and the most important exhibit of pedigree cattle and equine. The Chilean Association of Slaughtering Plants organizes a special seminar on the subsector.

 

· Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI)

· Office for Agricultural Policy Studies (ODEPA)

· Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG)

· National Association of Agriculture (SNA)

· Institute of Agriculture Development (INDAP)

· National Forest Agency (CONAF)

· Chilean Association of Irrigation and Drainage (AGYRD)

For additional information, please contact CS Santiago Commercial Specialist Mary L. Lathrop, Mary.Lathrop@trade.gov.