South America is one of the leading players in the global agricultural market and accounts for approximately ten per cent of the world’s agricultural product export. South America also has many commercial farms, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Colombia.
Grains, such as corn and wheat, are widely grown the former being the general basic food in most countries.
Livestock forms an important part of South American agriculture. Several areas stand out as major commercial cattle-raising centers, notably the Pampas of Argentina and Uruguay, Brazil, and the Llanos of Colombia and Venezuela. Brazil has the largest numbers of cattle followed by Argentina. Both countries export large amounts of beef. Sheep thrive where cattle would do poorly.
Growth in South American Agriculture:
The last ten years has shown considerable growth in agricultural production within South America. The underlying reasons for this growth are:
· New techniques and technology are being used to bring formally unusable and barren lands into productivity
· The introduction of hybrid and disease resistant seeds, fertilizers and pesticides
· New demands from an increasingly sophisticated high end market
· Increased demand for meat
· Increase in demand from other markets
The primary producer is Brazil, with abundant land and a significant rural labour force. Brazil’s Cerados region covers an estimated 207 million hectares (equal to twenty six per cent of the US lower forty eight states agricultural land). The area that can be cropped is estimated to be around 120 million hectares. Less than 100 million hectares are currently utilised, with irrigated land covering around 30 million hectares and the remainder under pasture.Development of the Cerados began in the 1970’s with creation of extensive livestock operations, this was followed by intensive soybean production and soil management techniques. Significant migration into the region occurred from the 1980’s onwards.
Since the mid-1990s, both Argentina and Brazil have made major gains in agricultural production. Brazil's output of corn increased to a record 53 million tons in the crop year of 2011. South America produces a total of almost 20% of the world's beef, mostly coming from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
South America’s agricultural transformation is due largely to the efforts of research entities who have developed new technologies and agronomy and entrepreneurial investment alongside government support.
The region’s growing global importance requires an equally important investment in logistics and infrastructure alongside the continued development of seed and planting techniques suited to hot and dry climates.
Brazil is the 7th largest economy in the world and the largest in South America. World-wide, Brazil is ranked fourth in agro industry and agriculture. Agriculture is one of the most dynamic sectors of the Brazilian economy. Within Latin America, Brazil is one of the leading investors in agriculture research and development. Brazil is the world's third largest producer of corn. Agriculture in Brazil accounts for an estimated 8% of GDP, and employs about a quarter of the labour force in six million agricultural enterprises.
Brazil has increased its grain and livestock production by 774% and 251% between 1960 and 2011 respectively. Heavy investments have been made in research for the sector. This has ensured Brazil a leading role in international agricultural production.
Grain production covers 50 Million hectares, Livestock production covers 170 Million hectares, exports to 215 markets in 180 countries with a total agricultural export amount of USD 76 Billion.
The pasture areas in Brazil represent 75% of the agriculture area and annually 100,000tons of forage seeds are marketed.
The agriculture sector in Argentina is export-oriented. Argentina is among the world's leaders in soybean and cereal production, and is a significant exporter of beef.
As in Argentina, the agriculture sector in Uruguay is export oriented. The main products produced in Uruguay include wheat, rice, barley, corn, sorghum, livestock and fish .
In South America, PGG Wrightson Seeds focus is on the research and development of new forage varieties that are used in the different production systems in the region. The South American market is substantial and the potential for agricultural production from the region is significant.