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The drought in first person: the drama that unites three producers in the east, center and west of the country


A rancher from the Litoral, a ruralist from the agricultural core area and a fruit producer from Mendoza tell their stories in this campaign to be forgotten. What they resigned and what they hope to resurface.

Carlos Castagnani is a grain and meat producer in

Venado Tuerto

, Santa Fe. Tito Nicasio is a cattle producer in northern Entre


(La Paz, Feliciano, Federal, Federación) and southern Corrientes (Curuzú Cuatiá, Mercedes, Mocoretá).

Abel Mielnik is a producer with 60 hectares in the south of


Despite representing different regions, different activities and even different ages, their karma is the same: none of the three

remember having suffered a drought like the current one,

which is forcing them to review all plans, to

lose as little as possible

and propose a recovery, if it rains...

There are three cases out of thousands.

The drought has hit harder than ever and the big numbers say that at least

$20 billion

will be lost this year .

The economic impact is brutal.


put the magnifying glass on three specific cases.

They are the ones listed below.

Castagnani leads a family business that includes

a complete cycle of livestock

(breeding, wintering and fattening), agriculture with wheat, soybeans and corn.

They also carry out a more intensive activity: the production of seeds under irrigation for a company in the field.

His two fields are located in La Chispa and Maggiolo, two towns located 30 kilometers from Venado Tuerto, where the whole family lives.

He testifies that “the drought is greatly affecting the agricultural core area.

The damage began with the wheat, which left very little, at the beginning of the summer


There were batches that could not be harvested directly.

And then many fields remained


for example, many second-rate soybeans, which came after wheat, could not be planted due to lack of water”.

Nicasio reflects that the drought has left

“a terrible disaster”


The economic impact is eloquent:

"the rodeos are liquidated,

the auctions have twice as many animals as usual and a cow is exchanged for a roll of pasture, because it is difficult to maintain and fatten the cattle, due to the scarcity of water and food" .

Mielnik develops its rural production in the Scandinavia area

, on Route 188, on the Mendoza border with La Pampa.

At different times in the country, he was able to add surface area to an average of 10 hectares per decade, while other producers were abandoning their farms.

And he puts the “eggs in different baskets”: vines, a little fruit trees (peaches and plums) and some pastures.

But this year, none saves him.

Livestock on the Mesopotamian Coast

In the Nicasio area, cattle raising occupies more land than agriculture, because the land is not as fertile.

The farm for meat production is very bad in that area, with animals that have a

deplorable body condition.

“Many people who had little property

sold all the calves they had

 to buy food, save some cows and make them


But the percentage has dropped a lot and the consequence will be a lack of calves in the coming months”, he warns.

The oversupply of cattle returns due to the difficulties in feeding the animals.

Courtesy Tito Nicasio.

A significant percentage, approximately 25/30 percent, of the calves in Argentina come from this area.

That will be missing at the end of the year and next year.

Many ranchers had to resign leases, because

they had rented fields and there was no pasture.

So, the small producer loses capital, he has to sell the little farm he has left.

He doesn't have the fodder reserves he was going to live on all year long, he can't feed the animals and he dwarfs the herd.

"It's a collapse situation, now and all year

," he says.

In this context, the price of farms fell sharply: the values ​​that had recovered in January and February, after stagnating for several months, fell again.

“In March, the oversupply of wintering cows, preserves and calf at the foot

is again suffered ,

because there is no place to raise it.

So few want to buy that kind of category.

It is different from a calf, a heifer or a steer, which can be brought to a feedlot, despite the fact that the costs are very high, depending on the prices of corn”, he explains.

In any case, in the long run, it results in scarcity and an increase in the price of meat per kilo.

The stumbling blocks of livestock are seen in the medium term.

For this reason, Nicasio believes that “the government's aid plans should aim to look to the future.

In livestock, to project in the medium term, one should speak of 3 to 5 years and the long term is 7 to 10 years.

Less than that are unlikely speculations for the times of a livestock producer and they are absolutely useless.

Due to his experience, it is difficult for him to be optimistic.

"The national and provincial governments of recent years have not implemented state policies that transcend the situation, they simply put patches of months that are useless for producers, much less for a farmer."

Therefore, he is convinced that

"the situation of livestock in Entre Ríos and Corrientes is absolutely deteriorating

. "

Regional economies in Mendoza

Mielnik's two female daughters studied at the university, but the two males, in their 20s, work with him.

Despite all the setbacks, they preferred to continue the family tradition that his grandfather started, with the first 10 hectares that he bought in the '70s.

Later, Abel was enlarging the work area.

But today he feels that instead of having a solid company, he has

a heavy backpack.

Problems in Mendoza.

Courtesy Abel Mielnik.

The biggest concern of the Mielniks is, of course, the lack of water, not only from rain, but also from irrigation from the flow of the

Atuel River,

whose supply administered by the State is diminishing.

In times of drought, the demand is more critical, in a context of

historical dispute with La Pampa for its use.

They also lack manpower


Mielnik told


what is more than an open secret, from the mountains to the sea, and from Ushuaia to La Quiaca.

Many people are satisfied with social plans.

They are given less than what they could earn in rural tasks, but since they live the same way they don't want to go near the farms.

The government should review that policy, because we all lose, ”he says with bewilderment.

In this sense, it is in doubt

how they will resolve the crucial pruning

, which is decisive for subsequent productivity.

It is scheduled for August (last month without r in the name) but they think it will go to October and they will have to do it as a family.

The previous vine harvest was not good because hail fell just at Christmas and caught the provincial air patrol off guard, which usually breaks up ice stones before they fall.

If the human is not well organized, any phenomenon of nature hits worse.

So, from the heat to the frost, they are like blows to a boxer who progressively loses strength.

The agricultural core zone suffers the worst harvest in decades

The south of Santa Fe is a key area for

corn, the crop with the highest volume in Argentina

(this year there would be 36 million tons and the soybean harvest would barely reach 25 million tons: the cereal is sown in September, as the "date optimal". This time 20% of the usual area was covered, with very meager results. And the corn that was planted after that date presents "various situations: some were chopped, others herald low volumes and the exceptions are normal yields" reflects Castagnani.

Corn plants in the south of the province of Santa Fe. Courtesy Carlos Castignani.

In relation to first class soybeans, the producer from Santa Fe believes that "it is the one that is withstanding the drought best because

more than 50% of the second class ones have been lost."

The lack of water also has repercussions on the pastures, “because although livestock farming does not prevail in the area, it is done intensively and it is complicated when planning cannot be done due to lack of grass, rolls and corn silos.

We expect a very difficult winter in terms of animal nutrition."

These days are "death certificates"


Unfortunately, the first batches of soybeans and corn harvested show

alarming results.

In this regard, Castagnani recalls that "rural production involves long cycles: we will not have a recovery in 60 days, but at least in 6 to 12 months.

And if we talk about livestock, the terms are longer.


already perceives a brake on the economic activity of the productive interior.

The first impact is suffered by transport, since there will be a significant reduction in travel;

half, it is calculated.

There is also a significant decline in the sale of agricultural machinery and trucks.

The same recessive phenomenon is observed in the trade of inputs, “because producers have slowed down the purchases they usually make at this time to plan the next campaign.

That is not happening this year, with the aggravating circumstance that many producers buy inputs on account of the harvest, so we see that there will be problems with payments."

If it doesn't rain, the situation will get worse.

In that central area of ​​the country they need about 200 millimeters in the next two months to be able to think about the next wheat campaign.

"If the water does not arrive to recover moisture in the soil, it will not be possible to sow either," warns the producer.

But despite his deep criticism of agricultural policies, he assumes that, as a deeply rooted family business, they are "planning the strategic changes that we are going to have to implement in our production schemes, always thinking about producing again."

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-25

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