World Agriculture Watch


A vast agricultural database offers opportunities for further research

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has prepared and published three studies on Argentinian agrarian structures, drawing on agricultural census data for all types of farming unit. The studies, based on a large database, compile extensive information on Argentinian farms – their number, location, land tenure, land use, crops and livestock – from the technologies used to their organization, marketing, associations, education, etc. 

A wealth of farm information

The IICA’s database comprises close to 2 million items of information. It offers the potential to conduct extensive analysis of the country’s agrarian structure, economic and social performance, which could form the basis of future research. The studies reveal 13 different farm types, split into family farms and non-family farms with the following characteristics:

  • The owner or producer works the farm directly;
  • The producer relies mainly on family labour; or
  • Contract labour is hired temporarily on a seasonal basis.

Argentina’s family farm types

Seventy-five percent of Argentina’s farms are family farms. They account for 18 percent of the country’s agricultural land and produce 27 percent of total agricultural output.

The IICA database groups family farms into four types (A to D), based on cultivated acreage, size of herd, quality of equipment, total area planted with fruit trees, total irrigated area and presence of greenhouses. All of these farms face problems and challenges that hamper their development and competitiveness, exacerbating their poverty and vulnerability.

Non-family farms

The remaining farm units (excluding special cases) are grouped under ‘non-family farms’ and make up 23 percent of all farms. They account for 79 percent of Argentina’s agricultural land and generate 72 percent of the country’s agricultural production in value terms. Non-family farms are segmented into nine types. They are categorized based on farm output in value terms (three categories) and land rights (owners, non-owner tenants and mixed).

The data suggest non-family farms are set to play an increasing role in the evolution of Argentina’s agricultural production. Due to the importance of Argentina and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) to world agricultural output, the growth of non-family farms will have both positive and negative consequences for global food security and the sustainability of natural resources.

The publication of Argentina’s 2018 agricultural census will be an opportunity to update these studies. WAW is keen to expand its presence in Argentina to monitor the processes of technological development, production concentration, use of natural resources and interaction with the process of climate change.