Maybe the most interesting aspect of the forum was that it was held in Rosario, which is about 300km upriver from Buenos Aires in the Santa Fe province, and not in the capital itself. We’re seeing an agtech boom across the whole country, beyond the traditional agricultural decision-making hub of Buenos Aires. In fact, Rosario has many similarities with its sister city
here in the American heartland, St. Louis, MO. It’s an exciting transition because this brings us closer to the producers themselves, allowing us to better understand their challenges. This is especially important in light of the economic climate, which has seen a rough couple of years. Last summer, the country experienced a devaluation of currency caused by inflation and Fed interest rate hikes, leading to a $50bn loan
from the IMF to manage its debt. For folks holding pesos, their bank accounts declined by half overnight. Access to capital in Argentina is already extremely expensive, as most loans have an interest rate of nearly 60 percent.
Meanwhile, according to people we spoke with in Argentina, agriculture makes up almost 10 percent of the Argentine economy, and is responsible for more than 40 percent of raw material exports; that number jumps up to 64 percent once processed foods are included. Finally, because of changes in the tax code in December, tariffs rose on exports by another ten percent, further cutting into grower margins. All of this is to say, if you’re a farmer looking to buy a new tractor or install irrigation infrastructure, it is going to be expensive. In this challenging landscape, in order to stay competitive, a farmer has to think creatively about her options, and agtech is a big part of the puzzle.