About 13 percent of the labor force of Chile is engaged in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and these sectors account for 4 percent of the GDP. The bulk of Chile’s agricultural activity is concentrated in the Central Valley except for sheep raising in the far south. Since the 1960s agrarian land-reform programs have been instrumental in increasing the number of small landowners, and modern farming methods have increased productivity. While only 3 percent of Chile’s land area is currently under cultivation, agricultural production has increased significantly since the early 1980s. Chile is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest exporters of fruits, sending much of its crop to North America, where the fresh produce enjoys a market advantage due to the inverted growing season.
The country also has an important wine-making industry. During the 1990s Chilean wines gained popularity abroad, especially in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Leading crops in 2007, with production in metric tons, included fruits—particularly grapes and apples (1.3 million)—vegetables (2.9 million), root crops such as sugar beets and potatoes (1.5 million), and maize (1.6 million). Fruits and vegetables contributing to export income included asparagus, avocados, beans, citrus fruits, garlic, grapes, nuts, onions, peaches, pears, and plums.
Sheep are raised in large numbers in the Tierra del Fuego and the Magallanes regions of Chilean Patagonia. The country had about 3.4 million head of sheep in 2007, with a wool output of 14,000 metric tons. Other livestock include cattle, pigs, and horses.
Forests cover 21.3 percent of Chile’s land area. About 52.9 million cu m (about 1.9 billion cu ft) of timber was cut in 2007. Output consists of both hardwoods (such as laurel and oak) and softwoods (such as pine and cedars). Lumber, pulp, and paper are made from the annual timber cut. The forestry industry accounts for about one-tenth of annual exports. Chile has one of the largest fishing industries in South America.
A catch of 5.3 million metric tons was taken in the country’s rich fishing waters in 2007. Principal species include mackerel, anchovy, sardine, and herring. Processing plants pack much of the fish catch for distribution. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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