InterviewArgentina agchem sales could fall sharply this year

05 June 2009 01:28  [Source: ICIS news]

By Cristina Kroll

BUENOS AIRES (ICIS news)--Agrochemical sales in Argentina fell by 39% during the first quarter from the same period in 2008 and may have fallen even more during the second quarter, an industry source said on Thursday.

Agrochemical sales dropped to $256m (€182m) in the first quarter from $420m in the first quarter of 2008, according to the Argentinean Chamber of Agricultural Health and Fertilizers (CASAFE).

“Currently, the most affected crop-protection chemicals in Argentina are soy fungicides, which have dropped 20% in volume between January and May, said CASAFE president Horacio Busanello, who is also general manager of Syngenta in Argentina.

The fall in demand was caused by drought, which destroyed many planted soybean hectares, Busanello said. The heat also impeded the growth of fungus, decreasing demand.

Soy crops are projected to fall to 3.7m hectares in 2009 from 4.6m hectares in 2008, according to CASAFE.

The Cereal Exchange of Buenos Aires estimated that the country’s soy production for the 2008/09 harvest will be of about 32m tonnes. The previous harvest had yielded 46m tonnes.

Maize crops could fall to 2.8m hectares from 3.2m hectares, according to CASAFE projections.

The Argentine government’s intervention in the grain market was also to blame for the fall in planted areas, Busanello said.

“The government’s intervention in the wheat and maize external sales has translated in a fall of prices for the farmers. That is why they don’t purchase phyto-sanitary products in advanced as they used to,” he said.

By this time last year, Syngenta - one of the leading agrochemical producers in the Argentina - had reached 80% of its sales projections for wheat crops protection products, but had reached only 20% of projected sales for this year. 

Agrochemical sales in Argentina totalled $1.8bn in 2008.

According to CASAFE, glyphosate account for 50% of the agrochemical market, followed by other herbicides with a 23% market share, insecticides with 12%, fungicides with 10%, and the remaining 5% split among other chemicals.

($1 = €0.71m)

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By: Cristina Kroll
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