This Week in Food News: Argentina

By Estefania Luraschi (Buenos Aires).

Let’s take a look at some developments in the agricultural sector in Argentina during the past few weeks. Hot topics were climate change, community farming and food security, organic agriculture, and protests against Monsanto.

No Doomsday? Global warming could boost agricultural production in Argentina

A recent study on climate change released early this month by the White House made headlines in international news outlets because of its dire warnings that global weather patterns have become more extreme. Apparently, however, Argentina may reportedly stand to gain by certain aspects of global warming, according to a May 20th report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), possibly causing an increase in food production as rising levels of carbon dioxide in the air may favor photosynthesis in soy, corn and wheat. Still, the future is not all rosy – other effects of climate change, such as harsher droughts and flooding, might adversely affect agricultural output. This raises the need for adaptation and viable solutions in order to mitigate possible crop losses.

Latin America is investing in Community and Family Farming

During the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Santiago, Chile on May 8th, family farming was addressed as one of the key mechanisms to eradicate hunger and make sustainable use of land for agriculture, besides being one of the most important sources of employment. What is more, 90% of biotechnology practices are implemented by small farmers, said José Perdomo, President of CropLife Latin America at a conference in Quito on May 6th. According to the FAO, governments across Latin America have begun investing in the smallholder sector over the past few years. In Argentina, this trend recently materialized into a government grant of just over 20 million pesos (about 2.5 million USD) from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries for 26 small and medium sized farming initiatives in the northern province of Corrientes. At the same time, a study conducted by GRAIN, an international nonprofit focusing on land use, has found that corporations are increasingly buying up small farms and warns that global food production is at risk because corporations are less efficient in food produced per unit of land. According to the UN, 70% of the world’s food supply is grown by smallholders; in Latin America this percentage is even higher at 80%.

Organic Agriculture is on the rise in Latin America

According to research carried out by the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), organic farming in the Central and South America has increased. The investigation finds that across the region, 8.6 million hectares are farmed organically by 280,000 producers, representing 23% of the total percentage of organically cultivated land. Among Latin American countries, Argentina is the leader in assigning land to organic farming, numbering at 4.4 million hectares.

Argentina’s anti-Monsanto march has low turnout

On Saturday, May 24th, over 400 cities in 50 countries participated in a worldwide protest against the agrochemical corporation, Monsanto, to express discontent on the use of genetically modified foods and patented seeds. Argentina joined the demonstrations, albeit with a low turnout of about 500 people. This came as a surprise for Monsanto, as heavy protesting in the Argentine province of Cordoba in January spurred the company to expect and prepare for a much larger mobilization. At the demonstration in Cordoba, activists had succeeded in overturning a resolution allowing the construction of a Monsanto plant in the municipality of Malvinas Argentinas in Cordoba.

Posted in Buenos Aires