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Country Briefs

  Argentina

Reference Date: 04-April-2022

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Maize output in 2022 forecast aboveaverage due to record plantings

  2. Cereal output in 2021 estimated at record high

  3. Exports of maize and wheat at high levels in 2021/22 marketing year

  4. Food prices well above yearearlier levels

  5. Coverage of government’s cash transfer programme expanded

Maize output in 2022 forecast aboveaverage due to record plantings

Harvesting of the 2022 early‑planted maize crop started in March and yields were reportedly below the average due to prolonged dry spells in December in Entre Ríos, Córdoba and Santa Fe provinces. However, yields of late‑planted crops are expected to recover on account of improved precipitation since mid‑January. According to official estimates, plantings in 2022 are estimated at record 10.1 million hectares, increasing for the third consecutive year, prompted by high prices and strong international import demand. Reflecting all‑time high sowings, the 2022 aggregate maize production is forecast at well above the average, in spite of mixed prospects for yields.

Cereal output in 2021 estimated at record high

Cereal output in 2021 is officially estimated at an all‑time high of 93.3 million tonnes, about 20 percent above the average. The bumper production reflects record levels of maize plantings as well as record yields of wheat.

Exports of maize and wheat at high levels in 2021/22 marketing year

Exports of maize, the country’s major exportable cereal, are estimated at record 40 million tonnes in the 2021/22 marketing year (March/February). Exports of wheat are also forecast at a record level of 15.5 million tonnes in the 2021/22 marketing year (December/November). The high level of exports reflects the large supplies from the 2021 record harvest and strong international demand. In addition, the weak national currency boosted the competitiveness of domestic crops on international markets. The Argentine peso started to depreciate in mid‑2018 and, as of February 2022, it lost more than 20 and 73 percent of its value, respectively, compared to 12 and 24 months before. A faster‑than‑normal pace of maize and wheat exports was recorded in February 2022, amid increasing concerns about tightening of the global cereal supply following the start of the conflict in Ukraine, a key exporter of maize and wheat.

Food prices well above year‑earlier levels

Wholesale prices of wheat have been rising since August 2021, regardless of seasonality and the availability of bumper harvests. This is due to strong international import demand amid a year‑on‑year reduction in the global wheat production. Sharp price gains were reported since the last week of February, prompted by an increase in international quotations related to the start of the conflict in Ukraine. Prices of maize rose between November 2021 and February 2022 in line with seasonal trends. Concerns over the impact of dryness on early‑planted crops added upward pressure. As of February 2022, prices of wheat and maize were more than 35 percent higher year on year due to large export sales in the 2021/22 marketing year.

Overall, retail prices of food items are on the continuous rise amid a difficult macroeconomic situation, with an annual inflation rate of food and non‑alcoholic beverages estimated at over 50 percent in January 2022.

Coverage of government’s cash transfer programme expanded

After having contracted sharply in 2020, the gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by about 10.3 percent in 2021 due to a recovery of economic activities. According to official estimates by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), the poverty rate, which increased in 2020 by 5.7 percentage points compared to the previous year, remained stable, albeit at high levels, during the first half of 2021. To contain the negative impact of increasing food prices on vulnerable households’ access to food, the coverage of the cash transfer programme (Tarjeta Alimentar, only usable for food purchase) was expanded from 1.56  to 2.32 million households in the second half of 2021.

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