chileChile is a South American country located on an incredibly thin, 2,700-mile strip of land, whose width never exceeds 150 miles, stretching along the southwestern coast of South America. The Pacific Ocean lines its entire southwestern border while on the eastern border is located a wall of Andes mountain range containing about 50 active volcanic peaks. The country’s north is rich in minerals, especially copper. Chile’s population is about 17.5 million, and most of it resides in the central part of the country. The capital of Chile is Santiago, which hosts the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Chile is rated as an upper income, stable and prosperous country. The country is administratively divided into 15 regions, which are sub-divided into provinces. Each province is divided into communes, administered by municipalities. Regions are identified by their names along with assigned Roman numerals.



Chile enjoys a variety of climates, including very dry desert climate in the north, Mediterranean climate in the center, and somewhat oceanic, temperate climate in other parts.  Agriculture is an important economic sector. The country has a history of several land related issues and reform measures. According to the 1997 Chilean Agricultural Census, the average size of subsistence farms was 17.16 hectares, of transition farms 26.65 hectares, and of consolidated farms 65.90 hectares. Average large farms were of about 1,090 hectares. Major crops cultivated in Chile are wheat, corn, sugarcane, oats, barley, rapeseed (canola) and rice. Fruits and vegetables grown include grapes, apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, oranges, avocado, lemons, lime, onion, garlic, asparagus and beans. Beef, wool, poultry, fish and timber constitute important sub-sectors of Chile’s economy.

Key Statistics and Indicators




Agricultural land (sq. km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)











Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)









GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)











Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)





Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*



















Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO



history of extension and the enabling environment

During the 1940s

  1. Although the Department of Agricultural Extension (Departamento de Extension Agricola) in Chile claims to have started its functions in the 19th century yet it was not until 1948 when it became a full-fledged, regular department of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  2. In 1949, this department, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, and in collaboration with the National Health Service, launched a project, Plan Coordinado de Extension Agricola y Salud Pública de Aconcagua, which was basically an initiative in agricultural information and health extension. This successful project was later transformed into “Plan Chillan” and extended to three other provinces.
  3. As the above mentioned project’s expansion involved additional agencies, the government created an administering and coordinating agency called “Departamento Tecnico Interamericano de Cooperación Agricola” (DTICA) within the Ministry of Agriculture, which was staffed by both Chilean and USA personnel. The establishment of DTICA obviously duplicated, and most probably undermined, the work of the Department of Agricultural Extension.

During the 1950s

  1. In 1957, the U.S. Operations Mission, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Society, created a private agency, Instituto Agricola de Asistencia Tecnica, also called Agroservicio, whose function was agricultural extension and advisory work. Agroservicio‘ s activities covered a large geographical area, but without any coordination with the Department of Agricultural Extension whose substantial budget had already been transferred to Agriservicio.
  2. In 1958, DTICA transformed the Plan Chillan into Plan Nacional de Extension Agricola, and extended its extension activities throughout the country.
  3. DTICA recommended re-organization of the national service into semi-autonomous regions or zones in spite of objections of the Department of Agricultural Extension. Although the Department of Agricultural Extension and the State Bank of Chile (Banco del Estado de Chile) could have jointly operated a supervised credit program, the Bank decided to establish its own agricultural extension service mainly based on an initiative of the U.S. Operations Mission. A new institution, Institute for Agricultural Development (INDAP - Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario), was established in 1958, which performed dual functions as lending agency and extension service.

During the 1960s

  1. In 1960, DTICA received funding to launch another project on supervised credit, “Plan Navidad”, whose implementation was started mainly in cooperation with Consejo de Fomento de Investigación Agricola (CONFIN), but one year later the responsibility was transferred to yet another newly created agency, called Departamento de Credito Supervisado.
  2. During re-organization and mergers, the Department of Agricultural Extension disappeared, but re-emerged one year later and approached FAO for technical assistance.
  3. The USA financial and technical assistance to Chile’s agricultural extension continued during the 1960s. The pattern of the new extension service was, to a great extent, drawn on the lines of the United States Cooperative Extension Service. Many Chileans, who were graduated from the land-grant universities in the USA, promoted this particular extension pattern upon returning home.
  4. Encouraged by the continued foreign assistance, several additional institutions were created in Chile within a relatively short period to fully or partially perform the extension function. This raised issues related to coordination, duplication, conflict, service quality, and top-down decision making with little participation of farmers.
  5. In 1962, the U.S. Operations Mission started supporting another private organization, Instituto de Educacion Rural (IER), which was apparently already engaged in extension activities. The government funds, meant for the Department of Agricultural Extension, were shifted to IER.
  6. During the same year, the Ministry of Agriculture was re-organized and the Department of Agricultural Extension lost 35 per cent of its professional staff due to its transfer to the three agencies created earlier, namely Consejo Superior de Fomento Agropecuario (CONSFA), Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario (INDAP), and Corporacion de Reforma Agraria (CORA).
  7. The Plan Navidad gave rise to INDAP, which took over the functions of DTICA and CONFIN. In 1964, INDAP received a $10 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.
  8. CORA continued its extension activities for new landowners, receiving some foreign assistance.
  9. Without any external assistance, the Department of Agricultural Extension was reduced to a small number of professional staff with limited physical facilities and little national funding.
  10. In 1964, at least 19, including 11 public and eight private or semi-private organizations, were engaged in information, extension and advisory work in Chile. A 1968 study report prepared by the University of Wisconsin identified ten of these organizations as follows:
    1. National Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture (Departamento de Extension Agricola): Responsible for providing public extension services to all farmers in the country; performed routine extension tasks and published bulletins.
    2. Institute for Agricultural Development (INDAP - Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario): A semi-autonomous agency, responsible directly to the President; provided supervised credit for small farmers mainly for inputs; and offered little technical service.
    3. Agrarian Reform Corporation (CORA - Corporacion de Reforma Agraria):A semi-autonomous agency that ran government’s land reform program, including its Department of Technical Assistance and Cooperatives provided extension services.
    4. Institute for the Promotion of Agriculture (INPROA – Instituto de Promocion Agraria): A private agency associated with the Catholic Church; activities included land reforms on Church-owned farms, technical assistance, supervised credit program and promotion of new technologies.
    5. State Bank  (Banco del Estado): A state institution with activities included supervised credit program and farm credit operation; extension tasks initiated upon suggestion and support by the U.S. Operations Mission.
    6. National Sugar Industry, Inc. (IANSA – Industria Nacional Azucarera Sociedad Anonima): Formed in 1953 that is a legally private corporation, but 90 per cent of its stock controlled by government; established contracts with mostly small farmers growing sugar beet;  processed and marketed sugar beet products; provided supervised credit and greatly popular technical assistance.
    7. Sunflower Buyers Incorporated (COMARSA - Compradores de Maravilla, Sociedad Anonima): A private company that entered in contracts with sunflower and rape seed growers, especially in providing minimal credit and technical advice.
    8. Chilean Tobacco Company (Compania Chilena de Tabacos):A private, mostly foreign-owned company has production contracts with small farmers and sharecroppers, providing credit and technical advice with marketed finished tobacco products.
    9. Agri-service (Agro-servicio): A private company started with the support of the U.S. Operations Mission that provides consulting fee-based advice to mostly large farmers on farm management and investment planning.
    10. Institute for Rural Education (Instituto de Educacion Rural): A private organization associated with the Catholic Church and provides religious education and vocational training to the youth.  It had 23 schools in 1964 and it selected graduates trained as leaders, and paid some honorarium, returned to their communities as delegados to conduct farm visits and provide technical advice to farmers.        

During the 1970s

  1. From 1962 to 1973, when land reforms were being implemented in Chile, the two major players in agricultural extension were INDAP and CORA.
  2. Around the mid-1970s, the government started adopting a liberalized market economy approach. As one of several structural adjustment measures, CORA was disbanded, leaving the responsibility of providing extension services for small farmers to INDAP, but at the same time, cutting down the number of INDAP staff from 5,000 to just 1,000.
  3. Starting in 1978, a new era dawned for the agricultural extension in Chile, as the government embarked on a unique Technical Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (ATE) with the assistance of the World Bank.
  4. Professional groups (firms) were formed (mostly consisting of laid-off extension staff), and grants were given to small farmers for hiring these firms to provide extension advice, thus starting the privatization of extension services which, hitherto, no country had done in the region.
  5. The grants were provided under the assumption that they would gradually decline in amount from 80 per cent of the total extension cost in 1978 to zero in 1983 when the farmers will take full responsibility for the extension costs. This assumption, however, proved to be unrealistic, and ATE came to an end both due to very limited coverage of farmers and a new economic crisis hitting Chile.

During the 1980s

  1. The government started the Integral and Basic Technical Assistance Program (PTTI) for extension in 1983.
  2. Under the PTTI, private firms including NGOs and farmers’ associations were registered as service providers.
  3. Detailed proposals on providing extension services, based on diagnostic field studies, were invited from interested service firms. Thereafter, firms were selected by INDAP through public auction.
  4. The firms selected through the public auction, were given 80 per cent of the total extension cost by the government in the form of bonds/vouchers.
  5. As the PTTI was unexpectedly not benefiting small farmers, a Basic Technological Transfer Program (PTTB) was launched especially for the farm families with holdings of less than five “basic irrigated hectares”. The PTTB not only covered a variety of services including food security, nutrition, health, and household hygiene but also provided 100 per cent state subsidies to service providers.
  6. Both PTTI and PTTB programs were operated in parallel. In order to deliver services, both programs organized farmers into “multi-modules”. These multi-modules were divided into “modules”, each comprising 72 farm families.
  7. Each PTTI multi-module comprised 198 farmers, served by one subject-matter specialist, either agronomist or veterinarian, and three extension technicians.
  8. Each PTTB multi-module comprised 216 farm families, served by one professional technician and three teams of one male and one female extension workers.
  9. In spite of significantly enhanced extension coverage, several weaknesses were noticed in the programs such as most of the bonds/vouchers were being given to the government’s favorite firms; NGOs and farmers’ associations were being ignored; there was a lack of quality control; recipient farmers had little say about the quality of services received; and the failure of PTTI in ever recovering 20 per cent of the cost from the farmers. 

During the 1990s

  1. From 1990 to 1994, the government took several steps to improve the PTTI and PTTB programs.
  2. Extension coverage was further enhanced, and the service quality was improved. Assistance was also provided in entrepreneurial skills development and marketing of the produce.
  3. In addition to the established private firms, NGOs, farmers associations and universities were also invited to participate in the provision of extension services.
  4. Several programs were linked with extension, such as INDAP credit program, irrigation promotion program, reforestation program, special programs for indigenous populations, rural poverty alleviation, and some other programs related to women empowerment, training and research.
  5. A technical quality control program was developed.
  6. A project approach was adopted with the aim of establishing production, organizational and economic targets.
  7. Several alternate assistance modalities were provided to the farmers to make their choice.
  8. A demand-driven approach was followed for initiatives like improvement of farmers’ managerial skills, promotion of youth productive initiatives, setting up joint networks of small producers, organizational development of farmers, and various credit programs.
  9. The name of the PTTB was changed to Local Technical Assistance (SAL).
  10. A two-year limit was given to the state-subsidized extension technicians to develop with the farmers group economic enterprises to enable the farmers to enter the next phase of the program called Technical Assistance Program for Project Development (SAP), failing which the extension technicians were to be fired and relevant group was to be left without extension support. Eventually, this arrangement proved to be a failure.
  11. A new extension program, Local Assistance Program (PRODESAL) was started through the municipality governments under which INDAP funded a team of one subject-matter specialist and three extension technicians with the condition that relevant municipalities would provide lodging and transportation for the team.
  12. The decision making about allocation of service provision related bonds/vouchers previously handled by INDAP’s central office was delegated to INDAP regional and local offices.
  13.    Small farmers’ committees were established at regional and local levels to participate in decision making regarding the approval and evaluation of extension projects. A weakness noticed in this arrangement was the dominance by well-established local leaders selected by INDAP.

Since 2000 to present

  1. The condition for the technicians to produce a group economic project within two years was deleted.
  2. Members of the Local User Committees, who also had responsibility of program evaluation, were to be selected through elections.
  3. Rules of the extension program design were changed to summarize two stages; first diagnostic study, and second, technical assistance, more or less as done in 1983 except that the private consultant/firm that assisted in the diagnostic study was not allowed to participate in implementing the program.
  4. Yet another program, Investment Development, was started with the objective of coordinating dozens of active programs being operated by INDAP.
  5. Presently, Chile has a pluralistic extension system involving several public (autonomous and semi-autonomous), private, academic and civil society institutions as service providers. The INDAP remains the main extension agency.

Several donor agencies have provided financial and technical assistance to Chile to strengthen its agricultural sector. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) financed the Agricultural Development Project for Peasant Communities and Smallholders of the Fourth Region in mid-1990s. Two recently completed projects financed by the World Bank were Sustainable Land Management Project, and Integrating Biodiversity in Infrastructure Planning. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) implemented dozens of projects over the years focusing on various aspects of agriculture.

It was recently (January 2013) reported that AgServices, a subsidiary of New Zealand agricultural training organization AgITO will run a four-year agricultural training program in Chile. The program is expected to improve the effectiveness of the agricultural subsidies the Chilean government pays to its farmers and attract more skilled workers to the agricultural sector. More recently (July 2013), Chile has signed an agricultural cooperation agreement with New Zealand. The agreement will cover areas of science and innovation, education and training, climate change, forestry, water resources and environmental management, and mutually beneficial trade and investment.


Extension Providers

Major institutions providing extension/advisory services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Forestry Resources 

President of Chile has signed a bill on October 16, 2013 to create the new Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Forestry Resources, which means the portfolio of the new ministry will be a lot larger in authority and responsibilities. While the Ministry will certainly have a revised mandate, overall responsibility for overseeing, subsidizing, funding and coordinating agricultural extension services offered by so many public and private service providers still remains with the Ministry. The Ministry carries out its extension responsibilities through the following institutions:

Institute for Agricultural Development (INDAP - Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario)
As mentioned in an earlier section, INDAP is a government institute that was established in 1958. Thereafter, its mandate kept changing and mostly expanding over the years. INDAP, which has both national and regional offices, may be considered as the hub around which all 104 public and private agricultural extension agencies located across Chile serve the rural farm families. The individuals or firms from the private sector, who provide extension services, are called Promoters (Proveedores de Fomento). Beneficiaries of the extension services include small farmers, farm families, commercial farmers, companies and registered farmers’ associations.

INDAP has 21 assistance modalities divided into three categories, namely development of productive resources, human capital development and market access facilitation. Presently, the Promoters participate in only seven assistance modalities, which are legal water bond; drainage and irrigation studies; associative irrigation; investment development; recovery of degraded land; Technical Advisory Service (SAT); and Local Development Program (PRODESAL), which is primarily for small farmers and producers, and is usually implemented by the municipalities and, in rare cases, by the private sector. According to the established procedure, beneficiaries select from 4,743 Promoters registered in three INDAP registry systems (Directory of Technical Advisory; Irrigation Registry; Land Registry), corresponding to various assistance modalities, and receive necessary funds from INDAP to pay for the services rendered by the selected Promoters. Only in case of SAT, INDAP participates in the selection process and pays to the Promoters directly. According to INDAP records, in 2007, a total of 120,301 beneficiaries received services from 3,701 Promoters.

With the objective of assuring quality assistance to beneficiaries, INDAP has provided training to hundreds of consultants (350 between 2009 and 2010), selected under the SAT and PRODESAL programs, the latter having more than 800 subject-matter specialists and technicians in 2008, and benefitting 71,845 users (organized into Operative Units comprising 60 to 180 persons) covering 15 regions, 283 communes, and 621 Operative Units in 2011. In 2011, the PRODESAL had 186 extension staff working in the communes and 29 extension staff working in the municipalities.

Agricultural Research Institute of Chile (INIA – Instituto de Investigación Agropecuarias)
INIA is a private and non-profit corporation, and the main agricultural research institution of Chile, working under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Forest Resources. It has national and/or regional advisory committees, 10 Regional Research and Development Centers, and two technical offices, located in various parts of the country. INIA, which had 95 extension staff in 2009, has several units for technology transfer and extension purposes. Two examples are:

  • In the Valparaiso Region, INIA’s multi-disciplinary teams of subject-matter specialists provide extension advice through the Avocado Technology Transfer and Extension Center (CTEP – Centro de Transferencia y Extension del Palto). CTEP’s modalities of assistance comprise Technology Transfer Groups (GTT), Transfer and Extension Groups (GTE), Technical Assistance Service (SAT-INDAP), and other group extension methods.
  • In the O’Higgins Region, INIA’s Center for Stone Fruit Orchards (Centro de Frutales de Carozo) runs a technology transfer program on stone fruit, which includes training, seminars, field days and technical discussions.

INIA’s field extension methods/channels include publications, regional libraries, field trials, exhibitions, technology fairs, and field days.

Other government institutions, with extension activities

  • Chilian Forest Institute (INFOR – Instituto de Investigación Forestal de Chile)
  • National Irrigation Commission (CNR – Comisión Nacional de Riego)
  • Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FAI – Fundación para la Innovación Agraria)


Universities in Chile are now a part of the national extension and advisory system. They not only serve on public bodies related to agricultural and rural development, but also compete for extension service contracts. Universities offer academic programs in agricultural, forestry and livestock sciences, conduct research studies and run short training courses. Four universities involved in extension related activities in Chile are as follows:

  • University Austral of Chile was founded in 1954 and has separate faculties of agronomy, forestry and natural resources, and veterinary sciences; also has a Department of Extension.
  • University of Chile was founded in 1842 and has 13 campuses and 16 faculties, including Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, Faculty of Forestry Sciences, and Faculty of Veterinary and Bovine Sciences, all located on the Antumapu campus.
  • University Pontificia Catholica was founded in 1888 and has four campuses and 18 faculties, including the School of Agriculture and Forestry Engineering. Most extension related activities are carried out through two of its affiliated institutions namely Rural Life Foundation, that administers five secondary agricultural schools for girls, who receive a technical diploma after four years of rural, domestic and family-oriented studies; and UC Baviera Foundation, that conducts agricultural research and disseminates agricultural knowledge and technologies, trains agricultural workers through agricultural schools run by Catholic missionaries, and offers technical assistance to farmers thus contributing to the modernization of production and marketing techniques.
  • University of Concepcion, Chile Campus was founded in 1954 when its School of Agriculture was established under the Plan Chillan. It is located in the heart of farming region, offers courses in agriculture, livestock, forestry, veterinary medicine, and agricultural engineering; has significant cooperation agreements with major universities of USA, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Holland, Mexico, Argentina and Peru.

Non-public institutions

Private sector

As mentioned in an earlier section, Chile is the first country in the region to take concrete steps as early as in 1978 towards privatization of agricultural extension. As such, there are dozens of private sector companies and hundreds of private advisors and consultants that offer consulting, extension and advisory services in the country. Most of them work under contracts with INDAP using public funds, that is, basically through outsourcing. Names of some of the companies and private advisors are given below:

  • CADE Consultants, Ltd. had 4 extension staff in 2009.
  • Tierra Verde/Green Earth Consulting had 12 extension staff in 2009.
  • Nuble, S.A. Business Management Center had 34 extension staff in 2009.
  • Pelarco Business and Innovative Management Center for Family Farming had 12 extension staff in 2009.
  • Rio Bueno Center of Management had 11 extension staff in 2009.
  • JP Contratistas had 5 extension staff in 2009.
  • Business Administration Maule Sur-Administratora de Empresas had 16 staff in 2009.
  • Cooperative Business Management Center Region IX had 10 extension staff in 2009.
  • Eloy San Martin Soto had 3 extension staff in 2009.
  • Hector Yohnne Olivares Pena, AGPD Advisor had 10 extension staff in 2009.
  • Jose Torres Barra had 4 extension staff in 2009.
  • Professional Society Machodo y Riquelme had 9 extension staff in 2009.
  • SOC AGEC Limited had 4 extension staff in 2009.
  • Amparo Riffo had 9 extension staff in 2009.
  • Fernando Castro Gallardo had 3 extension staff in 2009.
  • Luis Ricardo Sepulveda Beltran had 3 extension staff in 2009
  • Pablo Diaz-Valdes Castro had 3 extension staff in 2009.
  • Patricio Barbosa E. had 2 extension staff in 2009.

In addition, Chile has a large number of commercial companies that deal in agricultural inputs, farm machinery and agricultural services. Some commodity-specific trading companies work under production contracts with farmers. Commercial companies may perform some extension activities with the objective of promoting the sale and adoption of their products. A few examples of commercial companies and their interests are given below:

  • Rimisp (agricultural production).
  • Agroenzymas (agricultural production).
  • Agricola Comercial El Trebol (agricultural production).
  • Saaut Chile, S.A. (agricultural production).
  • Fruta Del Pais Foncea (agricultural production).
  • Productos Hidroponicos El Oliveto (agricultural services and products).
  • Productos Agricola’s Orgânicos Gro-N-Green Chile S.A. (organic farming and products).
  • Sociedad Agricola Comercial El Estribo (commercial agricultural services).
  • Rotam (agricultural chemicals).
  • Repuestos Tractores Llanza (farm machinery).
  • Agricola Forestal Los Coligues Ltda. (agricultural and forestry supplies).

Non-governmental organizations

There are a large number of NGOs in Chile, engaged in a variety of activities. Starting 1990, the government allowed NGOs to participate in the provision of extension and advisory services to farmers. Since then, NGOs have been competing with other service providers in writing proposals and winning contracts.  Some NGOs have also worked for donor-funded projects while some have played a regional role by establishing working relationship with international NGOs.  Some of the NGOs that have been involved in rural and agricultural development, environmental protection, and the provision of extension services are mentioned below as examples:

  • AGRARIA (Food and Agrarian Development): Involved in extension services delivery; has had several simultaneous consultancy contracts with INDAP; also works in other countries like Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Guatemala, and with the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.
  • GIA (Grupo de Investigaciones Agrarias): has worked with INDAP; used group extension approaches in services delivery.
  • Center of Education and Technology (CET - Centro de Educacion y Tecnologia): helping poor rural and farming families in handling technology-oriented development; has an agro-ecological approach to the generation of technology.
  • Fundación Casa de la Paz: promotes participatory management of environment, boosts citizen participation; tries to resolve conflicts related to environment by organizing workshops or educational programs; has implemented about 200 projects in Chile in the last 10 years.
  • Fundación para  la Superacion la Pobreza: delivers services to the poorest parts of Chile, especially in rural and isolated areas.
  • Oficina Coordinadora de Asistencia Campesina: implements participatory programs for extremely poor people, especially ethnic minorities, women and youth; projects are related to decent housing, agricultural development, microcredit, and social inclusion of women.

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

The government has been encouraging farmers’ organizations to compete for delivering extension and advisory services under contracts with INDAP. Examples of a few farmers-based associations in Chile are:

  • Chilean National Association of Seed Producers (ANPROS – Asociación Nacional de Productores de Semillas).
  • Chilean Agro-ecological Movement (MACH – Movimento Agroecologico Chileno).
  • Organic Agriculture association of Chile (AAOCH – Agrupacion de Agricultura Organica de Chile A.G.).
  • Trade Association of Mussel Farmers in Chile (AMICHILE – Asociación de Miticultores de Chile A.G.).

The only law that governs cooperatives in Chile is the Cooperative Act No. 20190, which was passed in 2003 and last amended in 2007. The Act divides cooperatives in the categories of agriculture, farming and fishery, labor, services, consumers, special agriculture, and special power supply. According to the Cooperative Department of the Ministry of Economy, there were 2,404 active cooperatives in the country in 2012, out of which those belonging to the farmers were the highest in number (i.e. 289). Between 2010 and the first 11 months of 2012, 141 new cooperatives were created, out of which 33 were related to agriculture (26) and farmers (7). The 2012 data shows 70 farmers’ cooperatives and 51 agricultural cooperatives operating in Chile. A National Confederation of Organizations of Agricultural Cooperatives and Unions also exists in Chile

There is not much information available on the involvement of farmers’ cooperatives in the direct delivery of extension services. Names of a few agricultural cooperatives are:

  • COLUN – Cooperativa Agricola y Lechera de La Union Limitada:  accounts for over 80 per cent of milk and dairy products at national level, with about 21 per cent of the domestic share and about 15 per cent of the exports’ value.
  • CAPEL - Cooperativa Agricola Pisquera de Elqui Ltda: deals in Pisco, an alcoholic beverage made from special varieties of grape.
  • CONTROL - Cooperativa Agricola Control Pisquero de Elqui Ltda: also deals in Pisco.
  • COOPEUMO: a farmers’ cooperative with about 400 members, located in Peumo, 155 km from Santiago; as one of the cooperatives covered by the Mobile Information Project, using text messages to help small farmers in increasing productivity; provides services to the producers of avocado and citrus for export.
  • CHACAY: located 375 km south of Santiago, which was founded in 1968 and has about 90 members.  This cooperative went through serious financial crisis in 1990 and supports technology transfer programs with government contributions to another 70 families; main products and services include contract farming for horticultural crops and berries, including processing, technical, managerial and marketing services.


List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Chile. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.



Training options for extension professionals

Pre-service training or education may be pursued at any of the universities that offer degree programs in the disciplines of agriculture, veterinary science, forestry and natural resources, and have been mentioned in a previous section. Following institutions may be reached to explore the possibility of getting in-service training, depending on the training needs:

  • Institute for Agricultural Development (INDAP - Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario).
  • Agricultural Research Institute of Chile (INIA – Instituto de Investigación Agropecuarias).
  • Instituto Agricola Pascual Baburizza, located in Los Andes .
  • Under the Agricultural Training Project of four years duration to be operated by New Zealand, starting 2013.
  • Agricultural Technical Training Center, located in Osorno.
  • SGS Chile.
  • Rural Schools of Information, Technologies and Citizenship that are located in the regions of Valparaiso and La Araucania started in 2006.
  • The universities mentioned in an earlier section.

List of Extension Providers  

The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Chile. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.



Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension

According to the World Bank, in 2012, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Chile was 138.49. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 61.41. In recent years, Chile’s government has been keen on enhancing its citizens’ access to the Internet and on incorporating ICT in education, training, business, industry, agriculture and government institutions work. A Digital Agenda was agreed upon between the private and public sector around 2005, and has been monitored by a Digital Action Group. In 2012, a workshop titled Information and Communication Technologies in Latin America and the Caribbean was held at the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC) headquarters in Santiago. Chile is currently developing an important digital connectivity project called “Todo Chile Comunicado” (All Chile Connected), which  aims at giving three million Chileans in isolated sectors the benefits of connectivity, by expanding Internet coverage in rural areas from 11 per cent to 90 per cent.

Some of the ICT initiatives taken so far in Chile’s agricultural sector are:

  • An Inter-American Bank for Development (IDB) financed project on strengthening the competiveness of small agricultural enterprises through ICT was completed in 2007.
  • An IFAP (Information for All Programs) public library, established under the EIFL’s Public Library Innovation Program (PLIP) in Panguipulli, has linked farmers to sources of knowledge through ICT. Until now, the isolated communities of farmers had very little information on modern methods of farming.
  • A Mobile Information Project (MIP)/DataAgro platform was piloted in the DatAgro project with a cooperative of 346 corn farmers who now receive details on weather, news, sports and more via SMS. The information comes from UNESCO, the government agency “Fund for Agrarian Innovation,” and from newspapers. DataDyne, a US-based NGO, developed the MIP platform with grants from the Knight Foundation and the UN Foundation.
  • The pilot project Rural Schools of Information Technologies and Citizenship (RSITC) was launched in the regions of Valparaiso and La Araucania by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Forestry Resources in collaboration with the Brazilian NGO Committee for Democratization of Information Technologies. The initiative is aimed at enhancing ICT skills among the rural population through the construction of telecenters, which offer population’s need-based courses.
  • The Natural Resource Information Center has developed the Territorial Information System (SIT), which will establish rural community information systems, using free software, under a project that started in rural communities with high poverty indices. By 2012, 100 participating rural communities had implemented a rural SIT, which gives users access to a basic geographic data system with levels of geo-referenced data on soils, climate, water, fruit registries and property lines, all presented in an easy-to-understand visual presentation.
  • The Office of Agrarian Policies and Research (ODEPA) has been working on a price data delivery service using cellphone text messages.
  • The Chilean Minister of Agriculture has announced in 2013 about a new $4.5 million program that will allow rural producers to connect to the Internet, receive text messages via cellular phones and access a variety of on-line services related to the agricultural sector. Under this program, six pilot programs for Local Level Rural Wireless Networks will be installed in the Valparaiso and O’Higgins regions. These will provide broad band Internet to rural areas and will particularly benefit areas that produce table grapes, wine, corn, berries and other fruits.
  • An Information Services Platform called I+D+i (Research+Development+innovation) is available at, integrates specialized data bases with market, legislative, technical, productive and meteorological information; and will also participate in the Agro-climatic Information System with 114 automatic stations to register temperature, relative humidity, and precipitation primarily in sectors dedicated to fruit production. The pilot program, which benefits 8,000 producers, will also include a website that joins virtual rural communities in productive chains such as wine, berries, honey and corn.   
  • Some of the ICT platforms that facilitate extension services system of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Forestry Resources are as follows:
    • Virtual Learning Platform (CNR): provides e-learning courses on the benefits and potential of irrigation, and advanced technical training for project designers.
    • Fruit Horticulture Node (Nodo HortoFruticola): a technological platform for the development of fruit horticulture in Patagonia.
    • Tizón Tardío: an early warning system designed to send text or email messages forecasting the emergence of the late blight disease in potato plants; the system created by INIA in collaboration with the Chile Potato Consortium S.A. (Consorcio Papa Chile S.A.) and co-financed by the Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FIA - Fundación para la Innovación Agraria).
    • Murtilla Chile: a website for exchange of information and advice on the native Chilean berry from the Murtilla shrub, its bi-products and other uses.



Resources and references

Alarcon, R.V. 2012. Chile’s Foundation for Agricultural Innovation. In Agricultural Innovation Systems: An Investment Sourcebook; Pp. 80-83. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Alvarez V, C. 2005. ICT as a Part of Chile’s Strategy for Development: Present Issues and Challenges. Ministry of Economy, Government of Chile.

Bebbington, A. and O. Sotomayor .1998. Case Study: Agricultural Extension in Chile.

Brossard, F. 2012. “Our experiences can be replicated in the region” [an interview on ICT applications in Chile]. Newsletter eLAC2015. Issue No. 18, March 2012, page 11. Published by the United Nations, ECLAC.

Brown, M.R. 1968. Agricultural Extension in Chile: A Study of Institutional Transplantation. Madison: The Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin.

Brugger, F. (2011). Mobile Applications in Agriculture. Basil, Switzerland: Syngenta Foundation

Cox, M. and H. Ortega. 2004. Chile: Origin and Evolution of a Privatized Extension System. Chapter in W. Rivera and G. Alex (Eds.). Volume 2. Privatization of Extension Systems: Case Studies of International Initiatives; Pp. 9-16. Washington, DC: World Bank and USAID.

Edmonds, C.M. 1999. The Effect of Technology Transfer Program Participation on Small Farms in Chile. Selected paper for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association, held at Nashville, Tennessee, USA, August 8-11, 1999.

EIFL 2011. Bringing Communications to Farmers: Case Study-Chile

INIA (no date). Agricultural Research Institute of Chile, INIA: General Information. PowerPoint presentation

Lautz-Cauzanet, E.V. (no date; probably 2012). Rural Schools of Information Technologies and Citizenship (Chile). UNESCO

Moran, C.A. (no date). Technological Transfer Groups: Chilean Model. (Introduced and translated by G.B. Encina, University of California)

Nayan, P., D. Encalada, and F. Seron. 2012. Current Status of Agricultural Cooperatives in Chile (Abstract).

Remise, A. (5 August 2009). Top NGOs in Chile: A Primer. Devex

Rivera, W.M., M. K. Qamar, and H. K. Mwandemere. 2005. Enhancing Coordination Among AKIS/RD Actors: An Analytical and Comparative Review of Country Studies on Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems for Rural Development (AKIS/RD). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Santacoloma, P., R. Suarez, and H. Riveros. 2005. Strengthening Agribusiness Linkages with Small-scale Farmers: Case Studies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rome: Agricultural Management, Marketing and Finance Service, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Stads, G.J. and C.C. Zuniga. 2008. Chile. Agricultural Science & Technology Indicators. ASTI Country Brief No. 42. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Valdes, A. and W. Foster. 2007. Structural Characteristics of Agricultural Households and Policy Options in Chile (Chapter 3, Part 1; a typology of rural households and income determinants from the 2003 CASEN).

World Bank. 2011. Chile Vision 2030: Towards a Vision for Agricultural Innovation in Chile in 2030. Washington, DC: The World Bank.



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  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (November 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson

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