Chile and New Zealand will sign a technical cooperation agreement in March to help the development of Chile’s dairy industry, said Agriculture Undersecretary Arturo Barrera.

New Zealand is one of the largest dairy producers in the world and exports 95% of production. Chilean producers hope to learn from the experience of the NZ dairy industry.

The program will discuss ways of improving techniques in Chile’s dairy sector.  The first steps towards the agreement were taken in early January, when New Zealand expert John Perrin visited Chile’s most important dairy farms and met with officials from the Agriculture Ministry.

In February academics from New Zealand met with experts from Chile’s Austral University to establish a student exchange program which will further the flow of ideas between the two countries.

In March, representatives of the Chilean dairy sector will accompany government members to New Zealand, where they will observe dairy techniques first-hand and confirm details of the agreement.  Experts from both countries will also experiment with new techniques on specially designed farms.

While Chilean sector experts are anxious to learn from their New Zealand counterparts, Barrera said new techniques will only be applied to the Chilean industry if they are compatible with the sector’s existing infrastructure.

By Steve Anderson, correspondent