The region of Coquimbo has been the focus of attention of Chilean programmes to alleviate poverty in rural zones for a significant time. Extensive agro-pastoralism in this semi-arid region is linked to goat breeding and a specific land tenure system: the agricultural community. In parallel to this extensive system, the region shows the most developed agriculture in the Northern part of the country: the stakeholders, spaces and economic activities linked to goat breeding are therefore marginalised. Hence, the aim of the successive rural development programmes has been to replace the existing systems by intensive ones. Such intensive systems would be expected to generate more income and maintain or even restore the biophysical integrity of the exploited environments, allowing their users to step out of poverty. This pious wish, the accomplishment of which will be a long time in coming, leads us to question the bases of the implemented policies,
via the knowledge that sustains political decision-making.