Drought covers almost 55% of the territory
The drought keeps Argentine agriculture in check. The La Niña climatic phenomenon, with rainfall below the historical average, affected our country for the third consecutive year and this time with much more force than on previous occasions, bringing with it a productive disaster for agriculture. The consequences for the countryside and the national economy are and will be of magnitude, although the situation may still worsen.
The drama of the drought in the first person: “I never saw anything like it”
From different parts of the country the problem of drought with the testimonies of the producers. Less detour, business at a loss and concern for what is to come. They warn about the absence of official help
That is why Infobae carried out zone-by-zone monitoring to identify the most affected productions, find out their current situation and try to envision what may happen in the coming months.
According to the latest report of the Information System on Droughts for the South of South America, the area of the territory affected by drought or in conditions of water stress reached 1,364,749 square kilometers (km2) at the beginning of the month, equivalent to 54.48% of the total area, while 45.52% or 1,140,408 km2 do not currently present water stress situations.
More than 50% of the country is affected by drought
According to a report, almost 55% of Argentina’s territory is affected by the problem, which ranges from “abnormally dry to extreme and exceptional drought.” The most difficult areas
Of the total affected area, 22.19% (555,812 km2) is experiencing a moderate drought, while 14.39% (360,466 km2) is in a situation of severe drought, 7.43% (186,148 km2) and 1 .57% (39,384 km2) in exceptional drought and only 8.9% (222,939 km2) are in an “abnormally dry” process.
Although this situation affects a large part of the center and north of the national agricultural area and, to a lesser extent to the west of it, it is the eastern part where the problem of drought is more serious and jeopardizes the bulk of agricultural activities. that are carried out in this portion of the national territory.
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According to a map designed by the Grain Exchange of Buenos Aires (BCBA), the agricultural areas where the drought affects between 65% and 85% of the territory are the north of Buenos Aires, all the provinces of Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Chaco, center-south of Córdoba, center-east of Formosa and east of Santiago del Estero.
So far, wheat is the crop most affected by the drought. With its harvest just concluded, cereal production for this season was 12.4 million tons, a volume 44% lower (-10 million tons) than what was obtained last year. The lack of rain basically accompanied the entire productive cycle of the crop, which was finished off by late frosts. Barley also suffered the ravages of the weather, with a harvest of 3.8 million tons, 27% less than last season.
The question mark now opens for coarse grains, especially for soybeans and corn, around the fact that it is still not known for sure how much the drought will affect the production of both crops. For now, the north of Santa Fe, the surroundings of Rosario, the east of Entre Ríos and the north of Buenos Aires, have the largest number of fields of first class soybeans and early corn with a decrease in potential yield.
On the other hand, in the north of the agricultural area, week after week, it begins to receive rains that improve the water supply for coarse planting, since there are still three weeks of planting window for corn, while in the south of the province of Buenos Aires and La Pampa, rainfall has been reported that supports the state of the corn and sunflower fields.
The first calculations show that the impact of the lack of rain will be of magnitude. In this sense, the wheat harvest ended with a total production of 12.4 million tons, 44% less than the previous season. To all this, the Rosario Stock Exchange (BCR) cut this week the estimate of soybean production by 25% to 37 million tons, which if materialized, would mean the worst threshing in 15 years, not being able to plant some 600,000 hectares due to lack of humidity. As for corn, 200,000 hectares could not be planted due to this situation, according to the BCBA, so now 7.1 million hectares are expected to be planted.
But worse than the impact of the drought on crops is the negative effect it will have on the economy. A study by the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange foresees that the drop in the contribution of the six five main granary chains to the Argentine economy compared to the previous campaign could reach USD 15,743 million compared to the previous campaign, representing 1.8% of the stipulated GDP for this year, while exports could shrink by 33%, leaving some USD 14,115 million entering the country.
As grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans suffer from the drought, so do the productions linked to the regional economies. As the Coninagro economist, Silvina Campos Carlés, explained to Infobae, “at a general level, the impact seen in grains translates into many of our activities. The lack of water at key moments is affecting the production of fruits, vegetables, herd management in some areas, among other things. It is a transversal problem to all the crops that are developed in the affected regions”.
According to a detailed report prepared by Campos Carlés, there are two regional productions that are in crisis due to the drought, such as dairy due to the lack of pasture to feed the cows and sweet citrus, where heavy losses are recorded in Entre Rivers and Streams.
Situation of the regional economies, in times of drought
Also strongly affected is cotton production in Chaco and to a lesser extent in Santa Fe; that of rice in Corrientes with serious doubts about how much will be produced; manioc, which is concentrated in Misiones; that of peanuts, whose productive epicenter is Córdoba; that of tobacco, of which a “substantial drop” in production is expected, which is concentrated in Salta, Jujuy and Tucumán; and that of legumes, where planting dropped considerably in Santa Fe.
Less damaged but on alert are poultry and swine production, which are waiting for the scarce early corn that there will be; that of honey due to the absence of flowers; that of yerba mate, whose situation is more complex in Corrientes than in Misiones; and that of sheep, where the negative impact cannot yet be properly quantified.
Another of the agricultural activities most affected by the drought, but currently more difficult to measure its quantitative impact, is livestock. Although the producers speak of a great mortality of animals in the north of the country, especially in the northern part of Santa Fe, for sure the eventual reduction in the number of heads will be known later.
Today the provinces where livestock were most affected by the lack of rainfall and surface water are Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Santiago del Estero, Santa Fe, Córdoba and Buenos Aires. According to the sector specialist and consultant, Victor Tonelli, 70% of the country’s livestock area is affected by drought.
The main problem associated with the lack of rainfall is the lack of grass to feed the animals, but in the northern regions of the country the lack of water to give the herd drink is becoming increasingly common. Lagoons, streams and dry rivers are already part of the landscape.
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