Chile Will Increase Cloud Seeding in Fourth Year of Drought

Chile’s government will carry out a record cloud-seeding program in 2013 to alleviate a fourth year of drought that’s hurting the country’s fruit and wine industries.

Chile is planning to start cloud seeding in the Metropolitan and Maule regions after a similar program in the O’Higgins and Valparaiso regions helped reduce a shortage in rainfall by 10 percent, Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol said in an e-mailed statement today.

The government pumped 72 billion pesos ($152 million) last year into its irrigation program that includes building artificial dams and cloud seeding, Mayol said. Countries from China to the Philippines have widened their use of cloud seeding, where planes release silver iodide or carbon dioxide into cumulus clouds to provoke rain.

Chile relies on rain and ice-melt from the Andes for its fruit and wine industry located in the country’s central region. The South American country is the world’s largest exporter of table grapes and is ranked second in kiwis and avocados, according to Chile’s Fruit Chamber, known as Fedefruta.

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