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GIEWS Country Brief: Argentina 23-February-2021

Country: Argentina Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Please refer to the attached file. FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT Production of 2021 maize crop forecast above average due to near record plantings Bumper production of cereals in 2020 due to record maize harvest Exports of maize forecast at high levels in 2020/21 marketing year Prices of grains continued an upward trend in January 2021 and were high year on year Government maintained price ceilings and increased food assistance Production of 2021 maize crop forecast above average due to near record plantings The 2021 maize crop is currently at flowering and grain filling stages and the harvest is expected to start in March. Production is forecast at an above average level due to near record plantings. According to official estimates, the planted area is set at 9.4 million hectares, similar to the 2020 record level, reflecting remunerative prices and strong demand for exports. However, some concerns remain about yields as dry weather conditions between September and December 2020 in the central and northern producing areas affected germination and development of early planted crops. Improved rainfall since January 2021 replenished soil moisture and significantly improved crop conditions. However, official forecasts indicate below average rainfall amounts in the February April 2021 period, which could lower yields of the late planted crops. The 2021 paddy crop is also at grain filling stages and production is forecast to be near average. Bumper production of cereals in 2020 due to record harvest of maize The aggregate cereal production in 2020 is officially estimated at a near record level of 84.2 million tonnes. The bumper harvest mainly reflects an increase in maize production. Production of maize in 2020 is estimated at a record 58.5 million tonnes due to above average yields and the steady expansion of plantings over the last five years, supported by remunerative prices and strong export demand. By contrast, production of wheat is expected to decline for the first time in four years on account of severe dry weather conditions in the September December 2020 period in the important producing provinces of Santa Fe and Cordoba. As a result, the 2020 wheat output is officially estimated at 17.6 million tonnes, similar to the five year average but lower than the high levels registered in previous years. Outbreaks of locusts, reported in the June August 2020 period in northeastern areas, were contained effectively and prevented widespread damage to wheat crops and pastures. Exports of maize forecast at high levels in 2020/21 marketing year Exports of maize, the country s major exportable cereal, are expected at a well above average level of 36 million tonnes in the 2020/21 marketing year (March/February). The high level of exports reflects large supplies from the 2020 record harvest and strong international demand for exports. In addition, the weak local currency boosted the competitiveness of domestic maize on the international markets. The Argentinian peso started to depreciate in mid 2018 and, as of January 2021, had lost over 40 percent of its value over the previous 12 months. Exports of wheat are forecast at a near average level of 12 million tonnes in the 2020/21 marketing year (December/November), below the high levels registered in 2019/20, reflecting the reduced harvest in 2020. In addition, export flows since December 2020 have slowed down due to strikes of port and transportation workers. Prices of grains continued an upward trend in January 2021 and were high year on year Wholesale prices of yellow maize and wheat continued to increase in January 2021 and reached well above year earlier levels both in nominal and real terms. The sustained increases are due to a combination of strong demand for exports and concerns over the impact of dry weather conditions on the new crops. Strikes by port workers in December 2020 as well as by transport workers in January 2021, disrupted market activities and increased uncertainty, adding upward pressure on prices. The high price levels are associated with an upsurge of the year on year national inflation, which increased by 36 percent in December 2020. Government maintained price ceilings and increased food assistance The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations estimates a negative Gross Domestic Product growth of 10.5 percent in 2020, reflecting the adverse effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the economy that was already in recession since 2018. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020 is estimated at 880 000. This reflects an increase in structural poverty and worsening food insecurity conditions, as the high inflation weighs negatively on the purchasing power of vulnerable households. In order to improve access to food, the Government has extended the price ceilings on several basic food commodities until 31 March 2021 and has increased the monthly allocation by 50 percent to be delivered to vulnerable households through the social protection scheme Tarjeta Alimentar.


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