Photo credit: IPS
Small farmers make carob powder, thanks to the support of an Argentine government project to boost family agriculture, in the rural village of Guanaco Sombriana in the northern province of Santiago del Estero. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS
The Dilemma of Soy in Argentina
Industrial soy production continues to expand in Argentina, pushing small farmers out of the countryside and replacing other crops and cattle. It presents a challenge in a country where 70 percent of the food consumed comes from family farms, but which also needs the foreign exchange brought in by what has been dubbed “green gold”.
In 2013, exports of soybeans, soybean meal, and soybean oil brought in 23.2 billion dollars, representing 26 percent of the country’s total sales abroad, according to the business chamber that represents producers of grains and cereals, the Cámara de la Industria Aceitera-Centro de Exportadores de Cereales.
That makes transgenic soybeans Argentina’s main source of foreign currency. And the soybean production chain accounts for 5.5 percent of GDP and 10 percent of tax revenue.
Impact on farming
“The growth in the surface area covered by soy and by transgenic commodities in general has meant the displacement of local farmers and an increase in cattle raised in feedlots,” Carlos Vicente, a member of GRAIN, a Barcelona-based international organisation dedicated to global agricultural issues, told IPS.
As an example of the impact, he said thousands of small dairy farms had closed down. “In the (eastern) province of Buenos Aires alone, 300 shut down,” he said.
“This means production is stagnant and concentrated in the hands of large producers, who are now acting as an oligopoly,” he added.
Read the full story: IPS
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