March 24, 2020
coronavirus
Official Information

Agriculture Ministry announces measures to keep farmer’s markets and the supply of agricultural products functioning in Chile

Agriculture Ministry announces measures to keep farmer’s markets and the supply of agricultural products functioning in Chile
Minister Antonio Walker gave an overview of the current supply situation in the context of the Coronavirus and explained how special travel passes for rural areas will work if stricter quarantine rules are put in place. Farms and all production, packing, processing, transport and port services continue to be operational.

Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker met with representatives of the association of rural municipalities (Asociación de Municipios Rurales, AMUR) to study the measures that have been implemented regarding farmer’s markets and supply in their areas. The Minister also explained how special travel passes will work, and the operations measures for rural areas in Chile.

“Our Safe Supply Committee wants all farm products to continue to reach the homes of everyone in Chile three times a day. Our main objective is farm to table.  As such, the first step that we have taken has been to declare agriculture a critical infrastructure activity, which means that farming cannot stop. Work in farming areas cannot stop because most of the food that we have in Chile is produced by our farmers,” stated Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker.

The measure is one of a series of decisions that the government has taken to address the health emergency. It has identified critical industries that must continue production, one of which is the agriculture sector because it is indispensable to maintaining the food chain.  As such, if stricter quarantine measures are introduced, there will be special travel permits for all workers in this sector.

“For this chain, the special travel permit instructions cover vehicles with a despatch note. The driver’s identity card can be used as a travel permit. There is also a collective travel permit that companies can request online at comisariavirtual.cl. This option is available to companies and businesses in the food industry that have sites that provide critical functions such as harvesting, food production, livestock feeding, fish farming, etc.,” stated Agriculture Undersecretary José Ignacio Pinochet.

Minister Antonio Walker also praised agricultural workers and noted that all production, packing, processing, transport and port activities continue to function normally.

Finally, the officials asked the country’s mayors to take the steps necessary to ensure the proper functioning of farmer’s markets.  Minister Antonio Walker reiterated his decision to delay loan payments for three months, which was announced last Thursday. This measure will take effect immediately and will be applied automatically for all National Institute of Agricultural Development (Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Agropecuario, Indap) users. The duration of this extension will be reviewed over time.

Hygiene measures for Chilean farming communities

The measures highlighted by Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker include the publication of a manual for best hygiene practices to protect workers in rural areas.

“The first priority is to care for and protect everyone in our rural areas. There are over six million people living in farming communities. Over a million people produce food and another million people distribute food items.  As such, we have produced a manual of best hygiene practices to protect farmworkers from the moment they start their commute until they reach a farm,” the Minister said.

Anyone who is infected or sent to quarantine by a healthcare center must request the appropriate medical leave note.

The measures adopted are outlined below:

a. Keep access gates to properties closed.

b. No one other than workers or transport staff may enter the properties.

c. Temperatures will be taken using laser systems at the access point to each property beginning today, Monday. All individuals, including employees and transport staff, must have their temperature taken. 

d. Anyone with a fever must report directly to a healthcare center.

e. Daily fumigation of dining areas, vehicles, and bathrooms.

f. Frequent handwashing.

g. Distance between individuals in dining areas.

h. The number of transport vehicles will be increased to decrease the number of people per vehicle.

i. Truck drivers must enter alone and may not be accompanied by passengers.