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Economy, Agriculture

live animal exports, Patagonia region, Rio Negro, Jujuy, important exports

Argentina raises enough agricultural products not only to fill domestic needs but also to export surpluses to foreign markets. Of Argentina’s land area of about 274 million hectares (about 676 million acres), 9 percent is cultivated, 13 percent forested, and about one-half is used for pasturing cattle and sheep herds. The Pampas is the most important agricultural zone of the country, producing wheat and cereal grains. Irrigated areas, from the Rio Negro north through Mendoza, San Juan, Tucuman, and San Salvador de Jujuy, are rich sources of fruit, sugarcane, and wine grapes.

Livestock raising and slaughtering are major enterprises in Argentina, as are the refrigeration and processing of meat and animal products; total annual meat production is nearly 3.5 million metric tons, three-quarters of it from cattle. In 2001 there were some 57 million head of cattle, 14.5 million sheep, and 4.2 million pigs in Argentina. In addition, there were about 3.6 million horses; Argentine horses have won an international reputation as racehorses and polo ponies.

Livestock export plays an important role in foreign trade. Earnings from meat, hides, and live animal exports in the late 1980s were about $1.4 billion, annually, or about 14 percent of total export earnings. Argentina has long ranked as the world leader in the export of raw meat. Cooked and canned meats are increasingly important exports.

Large quantities of wool are produced and exported; in 2001, 58,000 metric tons of wool were produced. About 40 percent of all sheep in Argentina are raised in the Patagonia region.

Wheat is the most important crop. Argentina is among the major producers of wheat in the world. In 2001, the wheat crop totaled 18 million metric tons. Other major cash crops were maize (15.4 million metric tons), soybeans, and sorghum. Other major field crops include oats, barley, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sugarcane, cotton, potatoes, rice, mate, peanuts, and tobacco, as well as a considerable crop of grapes, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.

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