Argentine farm leader says Agriculture minister is not qualified and knows little about droughts
An Argentine farmers’ leader said that Agriculture Minister Norberto Yauhar who tried to downplay the seriousness of the current drought for crops, “is not qualified for the job, plus knows very little about droughts”.
Eduardo Buzzi on Tuesday countered Minister Yauhar Monday statements when he called for “the dramatic tone this whole situation is posing, to be lowered.”
Asked about the official’s statement, Buzzi exploded: “is that what he said? What a piece of… I better control myself before saying something that will put me in all newspapers’ covers”, and added, “He (Yauhar) knows very little about droughts since he's a man that has always worked in totally different areas like sea-fishing industry.”
Likewise, Buzzi emphasized “It is obvious that the minister knows nothing about corn industry or droughts. He should really get into the corn world so he could get a real and deep understanding of what’s happening.”
Finally the farmers’ leader invited the minister ”to take his tie off, roll up his sleeves and get his hands into the corn field to get a deep insight of the serious situation the sector is going through”.
Argentina has been hit by an unforgiving southern hemisphere summer sun, prompting analysts to cut their crop forecasts and fuelling farmers’ demands for tax cuts to help them get through the season.
Soybean prices are rising on continued worries that hot, dry weather, not just in Argentina but also around the region, could cut global supplies.
Forecasts last week predicted more rain in Argentina’s main corn and soybean belt. However rains appear to be lighter than expected stoking fears that dry weather will hurt yields, with some concerned that no rain will fall at all.
On Monday the Argentine Rural Society (SRA) released a survey which highlighted that the province of Buenos Aires is one suffering the most from the lack of rainfall and the continuing dry weather.
Another rich agriculture province, Santa Fe has convened the Agricultural Emergency Committee to discuss measures to mitigate the effects of extreme drought in production areas of that province.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Undersecretary Oscar Solís said on Monday that the drought had reduced grain harvest estimates to around 100 million tons this season, down 10 million. He added that a “lowest bid” with regard to soybeans and corn “will be passed onto” global prices.
“We assumed this year would reach 110 million tons (of grain), counting a pre-harvest of 103.6 million tons but it will probably reach around 100 million tons because the decline in corn production (due to the drought) needs to be taken into consideration since this depends on the second round of planting and the harvest.”
Showers are expected in the grain-exporting powerhouse’s main farm areas this week, but climatologists have questioned whether the amount of water to hit the drought-stricken Pampas will be enough to revive key corn and soy crops.
After calling for the “dramatic tone to be lowered” on Monday Minister Yauhar reiterated that the methods to analyze the situation of the productive sector will be “surgical,” and discarded the creation of specific funds to help producers which have been affected.
German Heinzenknecht, a forecaster at consultancy Climatología Aplicada, said: “A lack of water has shrunk Argentina’s corn crop at a time when that country, the world’s number-two corn exporter, was being counted. However, the central growing area will see some rain over the next 48 hours ahead, but the situation is delicate because the rains that are expected would be less than needed.”
Argentina’s central Pampas farm area includes southern Santa Fe, northern Buenos Aires and southern Córdoba provinces.
“These areas need 150 millimetres of rain and only 20 to 25 millimetres is forecasted,” Heinzenknecht added. “Of course there could be surprises. Some areas could get more than what’s expected, but you cannot count on that.”
Other provinces suffering from the drought include Formosa, whose cotton production is expected to be down, and La Rioja, the main producer of carob.
Meanwhile, Paraguay’s two-month long drought has also affected the neighbouring country, which is set to see a 40% decrease in soybean crops, corn and cotton, Paraguay’s deputy Agriculture Minister Andrés Werlhe anticipated on Monday.