Argentina: a solution for funding the crop
- François-Xavier Branthôme
- 2019 Season - Read in French
As the harvest continues to progress, the government of the province of San Juan has made a credit line available to help finance the processing tomato crop, at a very low rate of 19.9% per year, which is approximately one third of the loan rates generally granted by local banks (which frequently exceed 50 or 60%). In total, 10 million Argentinian pesos (approximately EUR 235 000 or USD 265 000) are available, according to statements by the Argentinian Minister of Production, Andrés Díaz Cano.
This financing program is aimed at the smaller growers of processing tomatoes, and this is the fourth consecutive year the ministry has implemented this plan. All growers whose land surface does not exceed 25 hectares can obtain a loan of ARS 20 000 (EUR 468, USD 532) per hectare, with a cap of ARS 400 000 (EUR 9 362 or USD 10 638). Repayment must be completed within a 12 month period, with a maximum extension of an extra two months. In order to guarantee repayment, interested parties can present deferred payment checks.
According to Andrés Diaz Cano, the availability of these credit lines with a subsidized loan rate is part of provincial government policies to support the industry, which include a protection plan against problems due to weather conditions. Indeed, it is quite common for hail to fall during the summer season in the San Juan region, causing major damage to crops and severely jeopardizing growers' income.
The processing tomato crop is an important feature of the agricultural sector in the San Juan province, where it is expected to account for approximately 38% of the country's production. This crop has undergone major expansion in recent years, and planted surfaces have almost doubled over the past eight years, increasing from 1 000 hectares in 2010 to 2 000 hectares last year. Yields have also improved in a big way, sometimes reaching as much as 105 mT/ha during the most recent season. Explanations put forward to account for this increase include the development of drip irrigation systems (from only 11% in 2011 to 96% for the most recent crop), machine transplanting (from 20% in 2015 to 49% last year) and machine harvesting (from 8% in 2013 to 75% of planted surfaces in 2018). More than half of the tomatoes harvested in the San Juan region are processed in factories within the province, mainly into tomato purées.