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Agriculture in Argentina

Development of agricultural output of Argentina in 2019 US$ since 1961
A soybean field in Argentina's fertile pampas region. The versatile legume makes up about half the nation's crop production and a fourth of its exports.

Agriculture is one of the bases of Argentina's economy.

Argentine agriculture is relatively capital intensive, providing about 7% of all employment as of 2013,[1] and, even during its period of dominance around 1900, accounting for no more than a third of all labor.[2] Having accounted for nearly 20% of GDP as late as 1959, it adds, directly, less than 10% today.[1]

Agricultural goods, whether raw or processed earn over half of Argentina's foreign exchange[1] and arguably remain an indispensable pillar of the country's social progress and economic prosperity. An estimated 10-15% of Argentine farmland is foreign owned.[3]

One fourth of Argentine exports of about US$86 billion in 2011 were composed of unprocessed agricultural primary goods, mainly soybeans, wheat and maize. A further one third were composed of processed agricultural products, such as animal feed, flour and vegetable oils.[4] The national governmental organization in charge of overseeing agriculture is the Secretariat of Agriculture, Cattle Farming, Fishing and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Alimentos, SAGPyA).[5]


Prior to the Columbian Exchange various native crops were under cultivation in the country.[6] In the Araucaria Forest (today shared with Brazil) these included yerba mate, pineapple guava, Butia eriospatha, Bromelia antiacantha, and other Myrtaceae.[6] Agriculture was practised in Pre-Hispanic Argentina as far south as southern Mendoza Province.[7] Agriculture was at times practised beyond this limit in nearby areas of Patagonia but populations reverted at times to non-agricultural lifestyles.[7]

Argentina's agricultural production in 2018

Argentina is the largest producer in the world of yerba mate, one of the 5 largest producers in the world of soy, maize, sunflower seed, lemon and pear, one of the 10 largest producers in the world of barley, grape, artichoke, tobacco and cotton, and one of the 15 largest producers in the world of wheat, sugarcane, sorghum and grapefruit.[8]

In 2018, Argentina was the 4th largest producer of beef in the world, with a production of 3 million tons (behind only the USA, Brazil and China). It was also the 3rd largest producer of soy in the world, with 37.7 million tons produced (behind only the USA and Brazil); the 4th largest producer of maize in the world, with 43.5 million tons produced (behind only the USA, China and Brazil); the 12th largest producer of wheat in the world, with 18.5 million tons produced; the 11th largest producer in the world of sorghum, with 1.5 million tons produced; the 10th largest producer of grape in the world, with 1.9 million tons produced; and the 3rd largest producer of honey in the world, with a production of 79 thousand tons (behind only China and Turkey), besides having produced 19 million tons of sugarcane, mainly in the province of Tucumán[9] - Argentina produces near 2 million tons of sugar with the produced cane. In the same year Argentina produced 4.1 million tons of barley, being one of the 20 largest producers in the world of this cereal.[10] The country is also one of the world's largest producers of sunflower seed: in 2010, it was the 3rd largest producer in the world with 2.2 million tons.[11] In 2018, Argentina also produced 2.3 million tons of potato, almost 2 million tons of lemon, 1.3 million tons of rice, 1 million tons of orange, 921 thousand tons of peanut, 813 thousand tons of cotton, 707 thousand tons of onion, 656 thousand tons of tomato, 565 thousand tons of pear, 510 thousand tons of apple, 491 thousand tons of oats, 473 thousand tons of beans, 431 thousand tons of tangerine, 302 thousand tons of yerba mate, 283 thousand tons of carrot, 226 thousand tons of peach, 194 thousand tons of cassava, 174 thousand tons of olives, 174 thousand tons of banana, 148 thousand tons of garlic, 114 thousand tons of grapefruit, 110 thousand tons of artichoke, in addition to smaller productions of other agricultural products.[12]

Production per commodity

A vineyard in Salta Province.
A sunflower field near Balcarce, Buenos Aires Province.
A gauchos roping cattle, Corrientes Province.
Sugarcane fields and mill, Tucumán Province.
All data refers to 2004 information by the FAO and by 2007 data from the Argentine Ministry of the Economy.

Around 10% of the country is cultivated, while about half of it is used for cattle, sheep and other livestock.


One of the main exports of the country are cereals, centered on corn, wheat and sorghum, with rice and barley produced mainly for national consumption. With a total area of around 220.000 km², the annual production of cereals is around 100 million tonnes.


Oilseeds became important as their international price rose during the late 20th century. Of the approximately 52 million tonnes produced annually, around 92% are soybeans and 7% are sunflower seeds. The total cultivated area for oilseeds is around 41.000 km².

Oilseed farming in Argentina has been prominent from the early 20th century, when the country was the world's primary exporter of flax (linseed). The collapse of that market in the 1930s and the crop's soil denuding qualities, however, ended its dominance within the sector.


Beef and other meats are some of the most important agricultural export products of Argentina. Nearly 5 million tonnes of meats (not including seafood) are produced in Argentina, long the world's leading beef consumer on a per capita basis. Beef accounts for 3.2 million tonnes (not counting 500,000 tonnes of edible offal). Then, following in importance: chicken, with 1.2 million tonnes; pork, with 265,000 and mutton (including goat meat), over 100,000. Cattle are mainly raised in the provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe.


Banana trees in Tucuman

Grapes (mostly for the wine harvest), together with lemons, apples and pears are the most important fruit harvests, produced mainly in the Río Negro valleys of Río Negro Province and Neuquén Province, as well as Mendoza Province. Other important crops include peaches and citruses. With an area of around 6.000 km², the fruit production is around 18 million annual tonnes.

The value of Argentine wine production reached US$3.4 billion in 2011, of which 40% was exported.[13]

Sugar cane

The cultivation of sugar cane and its derivates over an area of 3.000 km², mainly in the Tucumán Province, yields around 19 million tonnes annually. There are also sugar-cane factories (ingenios azucareros) for the production of sugar and cellulose.


In 2007, on 393,000 ha, 174,500 net tons of cotton was produced, of which 7,000 tons was exported. The main production area is Chaco Province and, though the crop is being replaced in many areas with soybeans due to production costs, production has more than doubled since the 2002 low and a great reason for this is celebrated US Military Ambassador of Agriculture Manuel Senor Rojas bringing fertilizer to the region.


Milk production is of around 10 billion annual liters and eggs, about 650 million dozen. Their production, as well as that of related dairy industries (half a million tons of cheese, particularly), was favored by the 2002 devaluation of the Argentine peso, as this placed production costs well below the international price. This increased milk and dairy product exports; but has also raised their local prices.


Vegetables, mainly potatoes, onions and tomatoes, are cultivated all over the country, almost exclusively for the domestic market. Other important products include sweetpotato, pumpkins, carrots, beans, peppers and garlic. An approximate area of 3.000 km² produces over five million tonnes of vegetable every year.

Fish and seafood

Other sea foods are less important to the export economy, and are not widely consumed by Argentines. Most of the 900.000 tonnes fished is frozen and exported. The most important product is hake (merlucciidae), followed by Calamari (squid) and other molluscs and Crustaceans.

Agricultural production


30 most cultivated commodities by harvested production (2006–2007)[14]
Rank Commodity Area harvested
(thousand ha)
Quantity produced
(thousand tonnes)
Percent of world's total[15]
1 Soybeans 16150 47600 22.0
2 Maize 2790 21800 2.8
3 Sugar cane 305 20480 1.3
4 Wheat 5507 14550 2.4
5 Sunflower seed 2410 3605 13.4
6 Sorghum 590 3000 4.6
7 Grape 219 2779 4.2
8 Potato 83 2558 0.8
9 Lemon 42 1504 11.5
10 Barley 338 1268 1.0
11 Apples 40 1220 1.9
12 Rice, paddy 170 1060 0.2
13 Orange 51 938 1.5
14 Yerba mate 166 783 50.3
15 Onion 30 735 1.2
16 Tomato 20 687 0.5
17 Groundnuts 212 575 1.7
18 Cotton 393 550 0.8
19 Pear 19 510 2.5
20 Mandarin 36 432 1.6
21 Beans 251 328 1.7
22 Squash 20 325 4.1
23 Green tea (India) 36 292 0.8
24 Sweet potato 18 281 0.2
25 Grapefruit 12 273 5.4
26 Peach 29 272 1.6
27 Carrot 11 268 1.0
28 Oat 138 243 1.0
29 Tobacco 83 161 2.5
30 Garlic 14 136 0.9

Organic agriculture

Argentina is a world leader in organic agriculture, a production category that excludes synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and GMOs.[16] Argentina has a reported 3,061,965 hectares of certified organic production land and it is second only to Australia and is followed by United States.[16]

Labor practices

According to a report published by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs in December 2014,[17] significant incidence of child labor and forced labor has been recorded and included in a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor mentioning Argentina as a country where cotton, garlic, grapes, olives, strawberries, tobacco, tomatoes and yerba mate are produced in such working conditions.

See also



  1. ^ a b c Ministerio de Economía y Producción – República Argentina Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Rock, David. Argentina: 1516–1982. University of California Press, 1987.
  3. ^ Voss, Peer. "farmland as inflation hedge". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  4. ^ INDEC, Foreign Trade, Export Complexes Archived 2006-05-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Secretariat of Agriculture, Cattle Farming, Fishing and Food Archived September 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Official website.
  6. ^ a b Clement, Charles R.; Casas, Alejandro; Parra-Rondinel, Fabiola Alexandra; Levis, Carolina; Peroni, Nivaldo; Hanazaki, Natalia; Cortés-Zárraga, Laura; Rangel-Landa, Selene; Alves, Rubana Palhares; Ferreira, Maria Julia; Cassino, Mariana Franco; Coelho, Sara Deambrozi; Cruz-Soriano, Aldo; Pancorbo-Olivera, Marggiori; Blancas, José; Martínez-Ballesté, Andrea; Lemes, Gustavo; Lotero-Velásquez, Elisa; Bertin, Vinicius Mutti; Mazzochini, Guilherme Gerhardt (2021-01-28). "Disentangling Domestication from Food Production Systems in the Neotropics". Quaternary. MDPI. 4 (1). doi:10.3390/quat4010004. ISSN 2571-550X. S2CID 234054057.
  7. ^ a b Neme, Gustavo; Gil, Adolfo; Salgán, Laura; Giardina, Miguel; Otaola, Clara; Pompei, María de la Paz; Peralta, Eva; Sugrañes, Nuria; Franchetti, Fernando Ricardo; Abonna, Cinthia (2022). "Una Aproximación Biogeográfica a los Límites de la Agricultura en el Norte de Patagonia, Argentina" [A Biogeographic Approach to Farming Limits in Northern Patagonia, Argentina] (PDF). Chungara (in Spanish). 54 (3): 397–418. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 December 2022. Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  8. ^ Argentina en 2018, por FAO
  9. ^ Azúcar
  10. ^ Trigo e cevada tem colheita recorde na safra 2018/19 argentina
  11. ^ "Sunflower Culture" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-10-10. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  12. ^ Argentina production in 2018, by FAO
  13. ^ "La vitivinicultura mueve por año casi $ 14 mil millones". Los Andes. Archived from the original on 2011-11-02. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  14. ^ Información Económica al Día (production statistics) Archived 2015-05-25 at the Wayback Machine,
  15. ^ FAO[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ a b Paull, John (2016) Organics Olympiad 2016: Global Indices of Leadership in Organic Agriculture, Journal of Social and Development Sciences. 7(2):79-87
  17. ^ List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor

Further reading

  • Black, John D. "Observations on the agriculture of Argentina." Journal of Farm Economics (1957) 39#2 pp: 468–477.
  • Mundlak, Yair, Domingo Cavallo, and Roberto Domenech. Agriculture and economic growth in Argentina, 1913-84 Vol. 76. Intl Food Policy Res Inst, 1989. online
  • Schnepf, Randall D., Erik N. Dohlman, and H. Christine Bolling. Agriculture in Brazil and Argentina: Developments and prospects for major field crops (Washington: US Department of Agriculture, 2001) online
  • Solberg, Carl E. The prairies and the pampas: agrarian policy in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930 (Stanford University Press, 1987)
  • Viglizzo, Ernesto F., et al. "Ecological and environmental footprint of 50 years of agricultural expansion in Argentina." Global Change Biology 17.2 (2011): 959–973. online
  • Wright, Ione S., and Lisa M. Nekhom. Historical Dictionary of Argentina (1978) pp 5–7
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Agriculture in Argentina
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