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Argentina’s Farmers, Economy Hit Hard by Drought

07 April, 2018

Jorge Josifovich is a farmer and agricultural engineer in Argentina.

He is concerned because his crop is suffering from a severe lack of rain.

The drought began in November and has caused big financial losses. The drought also has reduced expectations of economic growth and raised concerns among farmers and government officials.

Jorge Josifovich, a farmer and agricultural engineer in Argentina, who picked up soy seeds affected by the drought in Argentina's most fertile agricultural regions on March 23, 2018.
Jorge Josifovich, a farmer and agricultural engineer in Argentina, who picked up soy seeds affected by the drought in Argentina's most fertile agricultural regions on March 23, 2018.

Argentina is the world's third largest exporter of soybean and corn.

Josifovich said, "Not only is there the physical loss of grain yield, but there's also the loss of quality, which lowers the product's final price."

Agriculture is very important to Argentina's economy. However, soy and other crops can either help or interfere with government development plans.

President Mauricio Macri hoped economic growth would increase to 3.5 percent this year.

But, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange estimates that, as a result of the drought, the value of grain exports this year could fall by up to $3.4billion, hurting the economy.

Argentina's meat and dairy industries depend on corn and soymeal for animal feed. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange says that, because of the drought, those industries are facing more than $600 million in losses.

The drought also is hurting the poultry and pork industries and also the storage, transportation and shipping companies.

Argentina has been hit by severe droughts in the past. The last one, in 2007, killed thousands of cows and cut grain production. Also, farmers were angry about what they called harmful government policies and a lack of aid for their industry.

During the current drought, Macri has announced that his government will provide debt relief to the farmers.

He has said he would increase the time for agricultural loans to be paid back. He also has announced extending credit to farmers so they can continue buying tools and other equipment.

Still, many growers say the government needs to do more.

The estimate for the soy harvest has dropped by 31 percent from the 2016-17 growing season. The corn crop is expected to drop by 22 percent from expectations earlier in the season.

Many farmers are demanding insurance that can protect them financially from the effects of the weather.

"We have a business that is out in the open air and we depend on weather," Josifovich said. "Sometimes, our complaints are justified."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press reported this story. Rei Goto adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

yield n. the full amount of an agricultural or industrial product

poultry n. domesticated birds kept for eggs or meat

shipping n. passage on a ship

relief n. removal or lightening of something oppressive, painful, or distressing

insurance n. a means of guaranteeing protection or safety