“The potential land for meeting the growing demand is in the temperate tropics, but Africa has neither the development nor the technology, which Latin America, on the other hand, does have, especially in the Southern Cone.”
Buzzetti pointed out that Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay produce one billion tons a year of grains on 72 million hectares, which represents 10 percent of the world’s agricultural land.
These countries account for 47 percent of the world’s soy production and 28 percent of maize exports, for example.
The region is also a leading global producer of meat: 21 percent of the world’s beef and 17 percent of chicken are produced by these Southern Cone countries, and the area’s meat exports represent a full one-third of global meat exports, the IICA official said.
And whereas Argentina was the undisputed regional leader in beef production a few decades ago, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay now surpass this country in volume of production.
According to agricultural engineer Fernando Vilella, misguided policies like export controls aimed at lowering domestic prices led to a drastic reduction in Argentina’s cattle herd in recent years, while chicken production grew and the soy frontier expanded.
“But with greater investment and a shift to more feed lots, beef production could rise again,” said Vilella, the head of the Agribusiness and Food Department in the University of Buenos Aires Engineering Department.
“In fact, it has already begun to recover. Argentina should follow the example of neighboring Uruguay, which regulates domestic prices of certain cuts of beef for the internal market while exporting the rest at international prices.”
With respect to the outlook for the future, Vilella told IPS that by 2030, Asia could be producing 75 to 82 percent of its own food, sub-Saharan Africa only 15 percent, and North Africa and the Middle East 85 percent.
“The remaining demand will have to be met by South America, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ukraine, which will have to feed a market of some three billion people,” he said.
“The role of Argentina and Brazil will be very important. The biggest challenge will be to boost productivity per hectare, because there is very little room for expansion of the world’s arable land.”
Vilella said production by direct seeding or zero tillage, which is widely used in soy cultivation in Argentina, is key, because is it the most efficient method, as long as it is done on the best land to avoid environmental deterioration.
With respect to competition from biofuels, Buzzetti said conflict occurs when food crops are diverted to the energy market, like what is happening in the United States with maize used to produce ethanol.
“Production has to shift towards second-generation biofuels, which use non-food biomass,” he said.
But besides the practical challenges, Buzzetti said the ethical problem of hunger in a world where more than enough food is produced has to be discussed, and measures of international consensus are needed to address the issue.
At Rio+20 (2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development), the need to move towards an economic model that ensures better distribution of income was discussed, and the issue was taken up again at the G20 summit (of industrialized and emerging powers) and in World Bank appeals, he said.
“We have to come up with a capitalist development model that provides for better distribution of income and food, to make the global system more sustainable and balanced,” he said.
“To achieve this, there are recommendations that focus on reducing volatility of prices, which have been on the rise in recent years, and to curb financial speculation in food markets--but these processes take time.”
The sources consulted concurred that it is inconceivable that there are countries in the region where hunger is still a problem. Some, like Mexico and countries in Central America and the Caribbean, depend on food imports.
Between 1999 and 2009, the number of net food importer countries in the region grew from 11 to 16, said Antonio Hill, a Colombian expert in agriculture and climate change with Oxfam.
Hill said Latin America has a greater responsibility as a food producer because while it must increase productivity, at the same time it must reduce levels of inequality, food insecurity and the ecological footprint.
“The most sensible thing would be to increase productivity, expanding support for family agriculture, especially for rural women, to ensure greater availability of food for the poor,” he said.
US, Brazil Stocks Drop
US stocks fell, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erasing gains after failing to hold above its average level from the past 50 days, while Brazil’s shares sank on concern the economy may shrink.
The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent to 1,614.08 at 4 p.m. in New York after climbing as much as 0.6 percent in morning trading, Bloomberg wrote.
Brazil’s Ibovespa sank 4.2 percent, the most since September 2011, as Nomura Holdings Inc. said the economy may slip into recession. The 10-year Treasury yield was little changed at 2.47 percent.
While oil rallied, the yen slid. The yen depreciated 1 percent to 100.66 per dollar. Oil jumped to a 14-month high, approaching $100 a barrel, on concern unrest in Egypt will threaten supplies.
The S&P 500 reversed its advance after momentarily rising above its 50-day (SPX) moving average near 1,624, a level watched by traders to gauge market momentum.
Brazil led losses in developing nations, sending the MSCI Emerging Markets Index down 1.2 percent. The Ibovespa fell to a four-year low as industrial production shrank more than analysts forecast and Nomura said the nation may enter a recession in the last quarter of 2013 as tighter monetary policy in the US curbs capital flows to Latin America.
OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, the oil company controlled by billionaire Eike Batista, extended a four-day plunge to 52 percent after Morgan Stanley cut the stock to the equivalent of sell. Rossi Residencial SA plunged 6.3 percent as homebuilders declined.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 percent as China’s overnight money-market rate dropped to a one-month low. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies slipped 1.2 percent as trading resumed following a holiday.
Australia’s dollar fell 1.1 percent to 91.39 US cents as the central bank kept its overnight cash-rate target at 2.75 percent as predicted by 25 of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
The Aussie “remains at a high level” and may “depreciate further over time, which would help to foster a rebalancing of growth”, Governor Glenn Stevens said in a statement.
The euro weakened 0.7 percent to $1.2969, an almost one-month low. A report showed producer prices in the 17-nation bloc unexpectedly fell in the 12 months through May, buoying speculation the European Central Bank will keep monetary policy accommodative when it meets this week.
Portugal’s 10-year bonds fell for the first time in five days, sending the yield up 33 basis points to 6.72 percent, as the government said Secretary of State for Treasury Maria Luis Albuquerque would replace Vitor Gaspar as finance minister.
Cyprus Defaulted on Debt
The ratings agency Moody’s said it considers Cyprus has technically defaulted after the country announced a delay in paying back bonds worth €1 billion.
The downgrade, although Moody’s does not technically have a default rating, was issued after Cyprus said it would delay the bonds and go ahead with a bond swap default strategy, RT reported.
Cypriot authorities said they will swap government bonds maturing in 2013 through to the first quarter of 2016 with new debt that matures at between 5 and 10 years.
The bond swap is a distressed exchange, and therefore, a debt default. Because the amount exchanged is less than the original deal, and Cyprus is allowed to avoid payment on the bonds.
Cyprus’ biggest banks are the largest holders of Greek bonds, which became ‘bad’ and ‘distressed’ following the Greece financial crisis, which left Cypriot banks with big debts.
Sixty-seven percent of outstanding amounts were subject to the swap.
Moody’s said the exchange of Cyprus government bonds for new ones with a longer maturity level means the financial commitment of Cyprus to the holders of the bonds will decline.
The agency’s statement on Monday came after Standard & Poor’s downgraded Cyprus to ‘selective default’ and Fitch downgraded the rating to “restricted default” because of the debt exchange.
Spain’s Unemployment Down
The number of people registered as unemployed in Spain fell in June due to hiring for summer tourism related jobs, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals a grimmer picture.
The total was down by 2.6 percent from the previous month, which is 127,000 fewer people on the jobless rolls, EuroNews wrote.
But there are still 4.76 million Spaniards out of work, including over half of all 18 to 25 year olds.
Spain’s June figures were not seasonally adjusted and reflect holiday hires by hotels and restaurants as well as for harvesting fruit and vegetables.
Taking into account seasonal variations, the number of registered unemployed people edged higher and was up by almost 1,000 from the previous month.
As one unemployed teacher outside a Madrid job center pointed out: For young people the situation is very demoralizing. They get ready to work, they study and then they end up queuing at the job center. I’m not very optimistic in the short term.
European youth unemployment is the focus of a political summit in Berlin this week.
Led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the gathering will look at how best to spend the €8 billion fund dedicated to reducing the high levels of youth unemployment in the 28 member European Union.
Tehran-Tbilisi Trade Angers US
Ever-increasing transactions as well as a sharp increase of investment by Iranians in Georgia over the past two years has prompted Tbilisi officials to freeze approximately 150 bank accounts of Iranian businesses and individuals.
The curbs are in line with US-led Western sanctions aimed at scuttling the Persian Gulf country’s peaceful nuclear program.
American and European officials have voiced growing concerns that Iran is seeking to use Georgia and its financial system to bypass international sanctions, Wall Street Journals wrote.
According to Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Iran exported over $108 million worth of goods to Georgia in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2013) while the value of imports amounted to $38 million.
Iranian businessmen exported products such as clothes, glass sheets, chandeliers, leather shoes, tar, washing liquid and detergents, decorative stuff, ceramic and tiles, animal skin and floor covering to Georgia.
Meanwhile, wood, machinery, industrial and electrical spare parts, casting machines as well iron byproducts were among imports from Georgia.
Isfahan, Khuzestan Agro Exports Outlined
The central province of Isfahan exported 8,250 tons of agricultural products worth $18.3 during March 21-June 21, said the head of the province’s customs office.
Asadollah Ahmadi Vanhari put the value and weight of exports at $14.28 and 9,480 tons respectively for the corresponding figure of last year.
“Greenhouse production, herbal drugs, rosewater, honey, walnuts and almonds accounted for a large portion of exports,” he said, noting that European countries, Persian Gulf littoral states and Central Asian nations were among major target markets.
Isfahan is located in an area of 10.7 million hectares, of which 560 hectares pertain to farming areas.
“The capacity of total agricultural production in Isfahan province is 5.2 million tons per annum,” Vanhari said.
Also, the export of agricultural products earned Khuzestan province $94.7 million during the three months.
Abbas Alidadi, the head of the province’s customs office, put the weight of exports at 258,261 tons, adding that last year’s exports stood at 209,403 tons in the period.
Kerman Exports Up 131%
Translated by Shahrokh Saei
Kerman province exported 75,139 tons of goods worth $98.9 million during March 21-June 21, indicating a growth of 131 percent and 11 percent in terms of weight and value respectively.
Mohsen Mostafaei, the head of Kerman Customs Department, also told IRIB that pistachios, stones, copper synthetics, ceramic and tiles as well as dates accounted for a large portion of exports.
The official noted that the products were exported to European countries, UAE, Malaysia as well as Central Asian states.
Also, Mostafaei said that in the period 11,704 tons of commodities were imported to the province, down 34 percent from a year ago.
He stated that the value of imports stood at $77 in the period, showing a decline of 1 percent.
“Most imports pertained to auto spare parts, industrial and electrical tools and edible oil,” Mostafaei announced, adding that UAE, China and South Korea were among major importers to Iran.
The official put the value of each ton of exported and imported cargos at $1,317 and $6,588 respectively.
Europe’s Jobless Youth
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said record youth unemployment is perhaps the most pressing problem facing Europe and warned of the threat of a lost generation, speaking on the eve of a meeting on the crisis.