Disarticulated agricultural growth: a comparative study of two Chilean regions

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Virginia Tech


During the last twenty years, Chilean agriculture has experienced unequaled modernization and growth. The uneven character of this process shows that economic development and the expansion of some agricultural sub-sectors can be associated with the absolute and relative increase of poverty, particularly in rural areas. This dissertation postulates that the disarticulated nature of the accumulation pattern has impeded the achievement of sustained national growth and social equity, as well as threatened the preservation of national food security.

This study explains the disarticulated character of Chilean agricultural growth during the last 25 years, analyzes the effects that disarticulation has on national food production and consumption levels, and attempts to advance some policy alternatives. An important contribution of this dissertation is to interpret the ongoing process of regional differentiation in Chilean agriculture through the analytical framework of disarticulated growth.

The results of this study indicate that decreasing disarticulation requires restructuring of the prevalent accumulation pattern. Otherwise, alternative policy instruments would not accomplish the goals of growth, equity, and sustainability. The development of the agricultural export sector is nut contradictory to the achievement of sustainability and equity. In fact the expansion of the export sector could contribute to the articulation of the economy. However, this would require a shift in the investment priorities and increasing state support to the annual crops and livestock sub-sectors, particularly to the campesino producers. At the same time, investment in the agroexport sector would have to shift from expanding production via incorporation of new lands to increasing productivity and overall increasing the value of the products. That is, investment would have to be geared toward agroindustrial processes that would add value to the unprocessed agricultural commodities that are currently exported. Finally, sectoral and macroeconomic policy should contribute to internal expansion by increasing employment and minimum wage levels.