Agricultural Innovation for a Competitive Chile

April 9, 2014

Since 2009, the World Bank has worked with Chile to develop a long-term strategy for agricultural innovation, which the country identified as key to reducing lagging agricultural productivity. However, the agricultural innovation system suffers from weak coordination, creating conflict and inefficiency. Drawing on intensive consultations and other international experiences, the World Bank responded to Chile’s request for the design of a technical unit in the Ministry of Agriculture dedicated to coordinating and enhancing agricultural innovation.


Chile has a national goal to become an important actor in global agrifood markets, and has had notable success with fruit, wine, salmon and forestry products in international markets. However, the initial dynamism of the agrifood sector fizzled during the last decade, contributing to a decline in productivity growth of the overall economy. 

The Government sought to develop an investment program focused on agricultural innovation that would help Chile reach Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development standards. Agricultural innovation, however, has been hampered by a lack of a clear, shared vision for the sector, with several disarticulated priorities and agenda setting mechanisms in place. Confusion, duplication, and even conflict of efforts resulted from poorly defined roles for the many public and private agencies and institutes working in this area. 


Through three analytical activities starting in 2009, the World Bank has worked with the Government of Chile to develop a long-term strategy for agricultural innovation to accelerate growth in the agrifood sector. The approach of the final analytical product was to create the recommended innovation coordination unit in the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) to implement the actions agreed in the early two analytical activities. To develop the design, the World Bank conducted intensive consultations with public agencies and the private sector and analyzed best practices in agricultural innovation coordination in six countries with comparable agricultural sectors to that in Chile.

The unit was designed to improve the existing, more informal coordination in place by:

  • Inducing processes of agenda building and priority setting;
  • Harmonizing funding flows and other innovation support activities, such as research;
  • Implementing systematic monitoring and evaluation of the Agricultural Innovation System.

The unit was designed to mobilize an advisory council to evaluate the unit’s work and provide direct representation from the sectors, and a more autonomous think tank to tap into global knowledge networks and push the frontiers of innovation in Chile.


The design for the agricultural innovation coordination unit was well-received, and the Ministry of Agriculture is moving ahead to begin implementation of this unit according to the recommendations. Furthermore, the design of the unit has been incorporated in a new proposed law to restructure the Ministry of Agriculture.

This series of analytical activities has already led to several new initiatives by the Chilean Government, such as the development of long term funding lines and research programs and the establishment of enhanced technical assistance to Chilean farmers. New areas, such as ICT in agriculture, are starting to receive more attention, and research institutes have been modernizing their agendas. In the long term, Chile expects that the proposed measures will lead to increased private sector investment in research and development in the agro-food sector. 

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank was reimbursed for this series of analytical services by the Government of Chile, for a total amount of US$410,000. 


The innovation coordination unit was designed in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) and the Chilean Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FIA) and involved extensive stakeholder interviews with numerous government and non-governmental agencies and private sector representatives.

 Moving Forward

The importance of the engagement between the World Bank and the Government of Chile has enabled it to withstand Government transition. Starting during the Michelle Bachelet administration, the work was further pursued by the Sebastian Piñera administration, and at the Bank’s recommendation, the groundwork for the unit has been implemented in order to continue to evolve under the new Bachelet administration.


The transformations in the agricultural sector catalyzed by the agricultural innovation coordination unit are intentionally targeted to improve inclusive priority-setting, giving voice to producers of all sizes and in regions sometimes marginalized by centralized decision-making. Chile’s agro-industry, for example, in wines, fruits, salmon, and forestry, will benefit from improved coordination and regulation of innovation activities. In addition, revitalizing the agricultural sector in Chile will have economy-wide returns, and over time, Chilean consumers will benefit from improvements in food quality and reduced prices. 

New areas
such as ICT in agriculture, are starting to receive more attention, and research institutes have been modernizing their agendas