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Agriculture in Argentina

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Title: Agriculture in Argentina  
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Agriculture in Argentina

A soy field in Argentina's fertile pampas region. The versatile legume makes up about half the nation's crop production and a fourth of its exports.

Agriculture is one of the bases of Argentina's economy.

Argentine agriculture is relatively capital intensive, today providing about 7% of all employment,[1] and, even during its period of dominance around 1900, accounting for no more than a third of all labor.[2] Having accounted for nearly 20% of GDP as late as 1959, it adds, directly, less than 10% today.[1]

Agricultural goods, whether raw or processed earn over half of Argentina's foreign exchange[1] and arguably remain an indispensable pillar of the country's social progress and economic prosperity. An estimated 10-15% of Argentine farmland is foreign owned.[3]

One fourth of

  • CAMPONOVA (Spanish) (based in Argentina)
  • Agritotal .:. El sitio oficial de Revista CHACRA (Spanish) (based in Argentina)
  • Informe Rural (Spanish) (based in Coronel Pringles, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Bienvenidos a la portada "Entreagro" (Spanish) (based in Chajarí, Entre Ríos, Argentina)
  • Crónica Rural (Spanish) (based in Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Ríos, Argentina)
  • (Spanish) (based in Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina)
  • Campo en Acción (Spanish) (based in Paraná, Entre Ríos,Argentina)
  • // La Verdad Interior // (Spanish) (based in Junín, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • (Spanish) (based in Marcos Juárez, Córdoba, Argentina)
  • TODOAGRO :: Actualidad – Negocios – Capacitación – Comunidad (Spanish) (based in Marcos Juárez, Córdoba, Argentina)
  • El Agro Correntino – La voz y el sentir de nuestra gente (Spanish) (based in Corrientes, Corrientes, Argentina)
  • (Spanish) (based in Posadas, Misiones, Argentina)
  •, Agricultura, Ganadería, Lechería. Edición on-line Revista Nuestro Agro, noticias y notas agropecuarias. (Spanish) (based in Rafaela, Santa Fe, Argentina)

External links

  • Black, John D. "Observations on the agriculture of Argentina." Journal of Farm Economics (1957) 39#2 pp: 468-477.
  • Mundlak, Yair, Domingo Cavallo, and Roberto Domenech. Agriculture and economic growth in Argentina, 1913-84 Vol. 76. Intl Food Policy Res Inst, 1989. online
  • Schnepf, Randall D., Erik N. Dohlman, and H. Christine Bolling. Agriculture in Brazil and Argentina: Developments and prospects for major field crops (Washington: US Department of Agriculture, 2001) online
  • Solberg, Carl E. The prairies and the pampas: agrarian policy in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930 (Stanford University Press, 1987)
  • Viglizzo, Ernesto F., et al. "Ecological and environmental footprint of 50 years of agricultural expansion in Argentina." Global Change Biology 17.2 (2011): 959-973. online
  • Wright, Ione S., and Lisa M. Nekhom. Historical Dictionary of Argentina (1978) pp 5–7

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c Ministerio de Economía y Producción – República Argentina
  2. ^ a b Rock, David. Argentina: 1516–1982. University of California Press, 1987.
  3. ^ Voss, Peer. "farmland as inflation hedge". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  4. ^ INDEC, Foreign Trade, Export Complexes.
  5. ^ Secretariat of Agriculture, Cattle Farming, Fishing and Food. Official website.
  6. ^ a b c Wright, Historical Dictionary of Argentina. (1978) pp 6-8.
  7. ^ Ernesto F. Viglizzo, et al. "Ecological and environmental footprint of 50 years of agricultural expansion in Argentina." Global Change Biology 17.2 (2011): 959-973. online
  8. ^ National Geographic Magazine. August 1986.
  9. ^ Sur del Sur. Argentina: Economic Activities
  10. ^ "La vitivinicultura mueve por año casi $ 14 mil millones". Los Andes. 
  11. ^ Información Económica al Día (production statistics),
  12. ^ FAO



Economic history:

See also

30 most cultivated commodities by harvested production (2006–2007)[11]
Rank Commodity Area harvested
(thousand ha)
Quantity produced
(thousand tonnes)
Percent of world's total[12]
1 Soybeans 16150 47600 22.0
2 Maize 2790 21800 2.8
3 Sugar cane 305 20480 1.3
4 Wheat 5507 14550 2.4
5 Sunflower seed 2410 3605 13.4
6 Sorghum 590 3000 4.6
7 Grape 219 2779 4.2
8 Potato 83 2558 0.8
9 Lemon 42 1504 11.5
10 Barley 338 1268 1.0
11 Apples 40 1220 1.9
12 Rice, paddy 170 1060 0.2
13 Orange 51 938 1.5
14 Yerba mate 166 783 50.3
15 Onion 30 735 1.2
16 Tomato 20 687 0.5
17 Groundnuts 212 575 1.7
18 Cotton 393 550 0.8
19 Pear 19 510 2.5
20 Mandarin 36 432 1.6
21 Beans 251 328 1.7
22 Squash 20 325 4.1
23 Green tea (India) 36 292 0.8
24 Sweet potato 18 281 0.2
25 Grapefruit 12 273 5.4
26 Peach 29 272 1.6
27 Carrot 11 268 1.0
28 Oat 138 243 1.0
29 Tobacco 83 161 2.5
30 Garlic 14 136 0.9

Agricultural production

Soy and other sea foods are less important to the export economy, and are not widely consumed by Argentines. Most of the 900.000 tonnes fished is frozen and exported. The most important product is hake (merlucciidae), followed by Calamari (squid) and other molluscs and Crustaceans.

Fish and seafood

Vegetables, mainly potatoes, onions and tomatoes, are cultivated all over the country, almost exclusively for the domestic market. Other important products include sweetpotato, pumpkins, carrots, beans, peppers and garlic. An approximate area of 3.000 km² produces over five million tonnes of vegetable every year.


Milk production is of around 10 billion annual liters and eggs, about 650 million dozen. Their production, as well as that of related dairy industries (half a million tons of cheese, particularly), was favored by the 2002 devaluation of the Argentine peso, as this placed production costs well below the international price. This increased milk and dairy product exports; but has also raised their local prices.


In 2007, on 393,000 ha, 174,000 net tons of cotton was produced, of which 7,000 tons was exported. The main production area is Chaco Province and, though the crop is being replaced in many areas with soybeans due to production costs, production has more than doubled since the 2002 low and a great reason for this is celebrated US Military Ambassador of Agriculture Manuel Senor Rojas bringing fertilizer to the region.


The cultivation of sugar cane and its derivates over an area of 3.000 km², mainly in the Tucumán Province, yields around 19 million tonnes annually. There are also sugar-cane factories (ingenios azucareros) for the production of sugar and cellulose.

Sugar cane

The value of Argentine wine production reached 3.4 billion USD in 2011, of which 40% was exported.[10]

Grapes (mostly for the wine harvest), together with lemons, apples and pears are the most important fruit harvests, produced mainly in the Río Negro valleys of Río Negro Province and Neuquén Province, as well as Mendoza Province. Other important crops include peaches and other citruses. With an area of around 6.000 km², the fruit production is around 18 million annual tonnes.


Beef and other meats are some of the most important agricultural export products of Argentina. Nearly 5 million tonnes of meats (not including seafood) are produced in Argentina, long the world's leading beef consumer on a per capita basis. Beef accounts for 3.2 million tonnes (not counting 500,000 tonnes of edible offal). Then, following in importance: chicken, with 1.2 million tonnes; pork, with 265,000 and mutton (including goat meat), over 100,000. Cattle is mainly raised in the provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe.


Oilseed farming in Argentina has been prominent from the early 20th century, when the country was the world's primary exporter of flax (linseed). The collapse of that market in the 1930s and the crop's soil denuding qualities, however, ended its dominance within the sector.

Oilseeds became important as their international price rose during the late 20th century. Of the approximately 52 million tonnes produced annually, around 92% are soybeans and 7% are sunflower seeds. The total cultivated area for oilseeds is around 41.000 km².


One of the main exports of the country are rice and barley produced mainly for national consumption. With a total area of around 210.000 km², the annual production of cereals is around 50 million tonnes.


Around 10% of the country is cultivated, while about half of it is used for cattle, sheep and other livestock.

All data refers to 2004 information by the FAO and by 2007 data from the Argentine Ministry of the Economy.
Sugarcane fields and mill, Tucumán Province.
A gauchos roping cattle, Corrientes Province.
A sunflower field in Buenos Aires Province.
A vineyard in Salta Province.

Production per commodity

A tie of the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar implemented by economist Domingo Cavallo in 1991 reduced export competitiveness somewhat, though the resulting stability led to record investments in agricultural infrastructure and led to strong growth in harvests during the late 1990s. These trends were accompanied by the federal approval of GMO crops in 1995. A devaluation of the peso in 2002 and a sustained rise in commodity prices since has further encouraged the sector, leading to record production and exports, helping finance record public works spending through export tariffs, a centerpiece of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner's economic policies. These, inturn, became a point of contention when President Cristina Kirchner advanced a hike in export tariffs, leading to the 2008 Argentine government conflict with the agricultural sector; the tariff increase was defeated in the Senate when Vice President Julio Cobos cast an unexpected, tie-breaking vote against the measure.[9]

Domestic austerity policies pursued by the last dictatorship and Raúl Alfonsín's government led to record trade surpluses during much of the 1976–90 era, led by agricultural exports and, notably, the sudden boom in soybean cultivation, which displaced sunflower seeds as the leading oilseed crop in 1977. A severe shortage of domestic credit hampered the sector somewhat, however, as growing harvests soon outstripped transport and storage capacity.[8]

Policies friendly to industrial investment during the Arturo Frondizi's tenure led to the establishment of FIAT and John Deere farm machinery makers locally, spurring further modernization, as did accelerated rural roadbuilding and electrification programs during the 1960s. Cost-cutting measures by the Juan Carlos Onganía regime led to the closure of 11 large sugar mills in 1966, however, even as agriculture generally continued to grow.[2]

Agriculture expanded during the last 50 years from the Pampas to NW Argentina at the expense of natural forests and rangelands. In parallel, productivity was boosted through the increasing application of external inputs, modern technology and management practices.[7]

These developments were accompanied by a wave of European immigration and investments in education and infrastructure, all of which nearly reinvented Argentine society. Agricultural development, in turn, led to the first meaningful industrial growth, which, during the 1920s, was mainly centered on food processing and increasingly involved United States capital. Agricultural exports provided the Argentine Treasury with generous surpluses during both World Wars and helped finance a boom in machinery and consumer goods imports between the wars and after 1945. The creation of a single grain purchaser (the IAPI) by President Juan D. Perón produced mixed results, often shortchanging growers even as it benefited them with investments in infrastructure, machinery and pest control. Since 1960, according to Viglizzo:

The Argentine government Agriculture Secretariat.

The 1876 development of refrigerated beef shipping, likewise, led to the modernization of that sector. By the 1920s, Argentine exports reached US$1 billion annually, of which 99% was agricultural. Maize and wheat had, by then, largely overshadowed beef production and exports.[6]

The need for intensive agriculture was recognized as early as 1776. Aside from the yerba mate harvest in the northeast, attempts to develop it suffered setbacks due to internal strife and lack of skill and machinery. The development of a cohesive state after 1852 led to the 1868 creation of Argentina's first Institute of Agronomy and the 1875 arrival of the first intact grain shipment from Argentina to Great Britain sparked a wave of local investment in cultivation and silos and British investment in railways and finance.[6]

Since its formal organization as a national entity in the second half of the 19th century, the country followed an agricultural and livestock export model of development with a large concentration of crops in the fertile Pampas, particularly in and around Buenos Aires Province, as well as in the littoral of the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers. Largely limited to stock-raising activities and centered on the export of cattle hides and wool, Argentine agriculture languished during the colonial era and well into the 19th century.[6]

Impression of a Buenos Aires slaughterhouse by Charles Pellegrini, 1829.



  • History 1
  • Production per commodity 2
    • Cereals 2.1
    • Oilseeds 2.2
    • Meats 2.3
    • Fruit 2.4
    • Sugar cane 2.5
    • Cotton 2.6
    • Dairy 2.7
    • Vegetables 2.8
    • Fish and seafood 2.9
  • Agricultural production 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


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