Thursday, January 26, 2012

Drought threatens Argentina

Marcela Valente in IPS: The low humidity in Argentina's most agriculturally productive region has already caused a decline in grain yield - in particular corn and soybean - with ensuing losses for producers and the government.

So far, this austral summer's drought has been less intense than the one that affected the 2008-2009 harvest. That drought, which was the worst in the last 100 years, caused a more than 37-percent drop in agricultural production and resulted in livestock losses. However, and even with the respite afforded by the rains that finally fell in recent days, grain production, exports and revenue collection are expected to fall.

Cereals account for 38 percent of all foreign sales in Argentina, not counting agricultural processed goods. "A record production of 111 million tonnes of grain had been projected for this year, but with the current lack of rainfall, estimates are down to 97 million for now," analyst Gustavo López, of the consultancy firm Agritrend Argentina, told IPS.

López said that right now the "most compromised" grain was corn, with marked losses that could not be reversed even if heavy rains came, and he could not rule out the possibility that the 2008-2009 losses would be repeated. Argentina is the second largest corn exporter in the world after the United States. In 2011, 23 million tonnes of corn were harvested, and 29 million were initially projected for this year, but López said a more accurate estimate now would be 22 million, at best....

Corn growing in Argentina, shot by Maggilautaro, Wikimedia Commons, nder the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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