Paraguayan soy bean farmers estimate that this year’s crop (2009/2010), which begins to be planted at the end of the month, could reach a new record close to seven million tons given the good climate prospects and producers enthusiasm.
“2009 was a lost year for agriculture but we are beginning a new season at the end of the month and results for 2010 could be very promising. Apparently we are going to have abundant rainfall because of El Niño, and international prices are not optimal but there are not bad either”, said Agronomist Hector Cristaldo, president of the Production Unions UGP.
A normal crop with normal yields should help farmers make ends meet, “we must take into account that this coming soy bean season’s results must help to pay costs of two crops: the lost crop of 2008/09 and the coming 2009/10”, added Cristaldo.
For this coming season “we expect the area to be planted with soybean to remain unchanged or slightly increased, that is from 2.5 million hectares to possible 2.7 million, which means that with an average yield of 2.600 kilos per hectare, we can again be well above the six million tons threshold, maybe even a record seven million tons, following the four million of this last season, which means more work, more jobs, more income for farmers”.
Cristaldo said he expects government authorities, particularly the Finance minister, to recognize the importance of agriculture for the Paraguayan economy, following the fall of GDP because of the fierce drought suffered.
“Last year when we talked of losses in the range of 40%, we were called alarmists and they refused to listen to us, particularly the Ministry of Finance, but now facts are on our side and the GDP losses confirm it”.
Cristaldo said that Paraguay’s GDP was down because of the leading role of agriculture, “the locomotive of the economy” and its poor performance the last season: “it’s time that officials change course and support farm production”. However “we are not asking for handouts, simply clear rules of the game and stability to ensure agriculture can get on with its job”.
As to the agriculture potential of Paraguay, Cristaldo said that in the east of Paraguay, there are still 7.2 million hectares of land of which 4.9 million are under production.
“This means we still have a potential growth of 2.3 million hectares with no need to cut a single tree, the area already has been deforested”, pointed out Cristaldo.
“Even with zero deforestation, agriculture in Paraguay still has much to expand to the east of the country”.