Emergency declared in Chile after worst frosts in 84 years

Chile has declared a state of emergency after its worst frosts in 84 years have caused an estimated US$1 billion worth of damage to grapes and fruit crops.

Chile's snow-capped Andes

Chile’s snow-capped Andes mountains

According to Reuters, the frosts have impacted a large expanse of land running from the Elqui Valley at the top of the country, all the way down to Bio Bio far south.

Agriculture minister Luis Mayol put the damage to Chile’s fruit exports caused by the frosts at 30% of and has pledged aid for farmers.

Among the grape varieties, Reuters reports that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have been hardest hit.

However, as the grapes have not yet fully flowered it is difficult to assess the full extent of the damage.

“These frosts are the worst that agriculture has faced in 84 years, impacting the area from Coquimbo to Bio Bio,” the national agricultural society told Reuters.

In addition to copper and fruit, wine is one of Chile’s most profitable exports, valued at US$1.8 billion, according to government figures.

The frosts not only put farmers’ jobs at risk, but could also lead to a rise in grape prices, which could impact on inflation and Chile’s already slowing economy.

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