Chile is now a major Southern Hemisphere exporter of fresh fruit, and the seasonal employment of women is an important factor underlying its fruit export production. This book examines the process of change which has taken place in Chile, leading to the integration of a significant female labour force into the fruit export sector. Chile is a good example of a country that has successfully integrated itself into non-traditional agricultural exports, which is regarded as contributing to the Chilean economic ‘miracle’ (Murray 1996). For a short period at the beginning of each year, Chilean fruit can be found in shops and markets throughout the developed and even developing world. Behind these fruit exports lies the seasonal employment of a large number of seasonal temporary workers (los temporeros) over 50 per cent of whom are women (las temporeras) (Venegas 1993). The expansion of agribusiness in Chile has involved a radical transformation of the rural sector over the past three decades (Hojman 1990 and 1993b; Kay and Silva 1992). The effects of this process on women working in this sector have been complex and contradictory. A consequence of the transformation, however, is that the temporeras have become central to the production of high quality fruit for export. They have been integrated into modern global agribusiness and form a vital element in the success of Chilean fruit exports.
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