Paths of Excellence

Paths of Excellence

Chiloe’s Archipelago – Chile

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System

Thanks to being an island Chiloé has evolved a rich biology that impressed even Charles Darwin who travelled through the archipelago for his researches. Due to its agro-ecological characteristics and biodiversity, alongside its rural culture and traditional knowledge developed by its people, Chiloé has been internationally recognized by FAO as an Ingenious Agricultural Heritage site of the World, GIAHS. The GIAHS Chiloé Program aims to recognize and secure the dynamic conservation of globally significant agricultural systems of rural island communities.

GIAHS sites are relevant to Chiloé, and the world, as they provide essential ecological services and food security for the population, allowing the extraction of good and ingenious practices of environmental management that result in the development of diversified and sustainable agricultural systems. The domestication of crop species like native potatoes, white strawberry, the Bromus mango, among others, have generated in Chiloe an agricultural culture that is expressed through a vast baggage of traditional knowledge and practices that are still practiced today. Examples range from the use of algae to fertilize gardens, the coexistence of livestock and agriculture with the use of the forests and the sea, etc.

In the context of Chiloé as a GIAHS Site, relationships between rural communities and businesses have been fostered, especially in the field of tourism and hotel management, creating conditions for stakeholders of different sectors to come together and join efforts in order to encourage the development of the territory. The on-going process can favor a model of development that is centered around cultural identity, traditional knowledge, innovation, recognition of local talents and of the enormous treasure that biocultural diversity can represent in this part of the world.

The Chiloé’s Archipelago products – Chile 

Chilotas Native Potatoes


There are archaeological records of use for potato consumption in Peru 8,000 years ago, and also in Monte Verde, Chile dated back 12,000 years. The historical background, partly subjective, suggests an evolution of the Andean species in southern Chile and later in Europe. Throughout the entire Andes we can find a great variability with hundreds of wild species and approximately a dozen cultivated. Sin doubt, Southern Chile was a center of domestication of the Solanums Tuberosum species, the variety that came to Europe in the 16th century, while the Titikaka Lake was the centre of domestication for the other most important quality, the Solanums Andígena species. There are different versions about the itinerary the potato made to come to Europe, some suggest from Peru and others from Chiloé. The controversial is still open and various researches are going on but the use of native potatoes from Chile, and particularly among the others the Chilote Indianer variety, in improving the species internationally is undeniable. Today, potatoes are the most important cultivation in the rural communities of the island, and there is a tremendous amount of native varieties that sustain food and income for rural families.



Loco, Concholepas concholepas [Chilean abalone], is a mollusk which grows in natural banks and is the most profitable resource along the archipelago coasts. However, demand is so high that it has been overfished and risked extinction. For several years its harvest was banned, until the authorities, inspired by the fishing system adopted by some communities of Chilean fishermen, introduced a law that encouraged groups of fishermen to join together and form a local organization. The management of marine areas was entrusted to these groups, with a trust agreement. One of these groups is the Viento Fuerte de Puñihuil union, fishing in the small bay of Puñihuil, in the northern coast of the Chiloé Island. To improve and protect the area, all the local fisherman work together on repopulation initiatives or transferring predators, like starfish. If necessary, they introduce the species that the loco feeds on, like mussels, which they call choritos, and they organize a system of collective supervision with the members to avoid illegal fishing within the area they oversee.



Congrio, (Genypterus chilensis), a big white fish, is a wonderful product of the seas of Chiloé. Especially when captured by fishermen and placed on visitors’ table and on the experiences of the exquisite cuisine from Chiloé.



Garlic (Allium ampeloprasum), basic product in the chilota’s cuisine, healthy and medicinal, with its gentle fragrance harmonizes the dishes prepared in family kitchens.



Oca (Oxalis tuberosum) is a very yellow and irreguar shape tuber grown in Chiloé since hundreds of years ago and is used in many local dishes.  It is now in the process of being recovered and promoted in Chiloé’s contemporary cuisine.



Cochayuyo, (Durvillaea antarctica), seaweed with great nutritional value, collected and processed under traditional techniques of the coastal communities, especially the huilliche indigenous communities.

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