|Argentina’s oil seed processing facilities in 2004. Source: USDA FAS.|
The Argentine Biofuels Chamber (ABC) is a new professional international trade association representing the biofuels industry in Argentina. Its mission is to coordinate and interact with a broad range of cooperators from the public and private sectors as well as academia.
Launched recently in Buenos Aires, its founding members include US investors looking to break into the booming biofuels industry, European biofuel associations eager to purchase the sector’s output, and international vendors seeking to sell equipment and services.
Argentina is expected to receive more than US$1.2 billion in biofuel investment in the next four years, and the Chamber will help create an open and efficient marketplace for both local and export markets.—Carlos St. James, Executive Director of the Chamber
Argentina is the third-largest global producer of soybeans, with estimated soybean area and production of 41.3 million metric tons (MMT) and 15.5 million hectares (MHAS) respectively for the marketing year 2006/2007 (MY2006/07), according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
Argentina enthusiastically embraced the use of Genetically Modified Crops (GMO) crops a decade ago, and now upwards of 98% of the country’s soybean production is GMO. Argentina is the world’s second largest producer of GMO crops after the United States.
Glyphosate-tolerant (“Roundup-Resistant”) soybeans were the first GMO crop introduced into Argentine agriculture. The rate of adoption places Argentina second only to the US in the use of this type of soybean.
The current Argentine soybean economy is geared almost entirely towards exports, with only 2% of harvested soybeans reaching the domestic market. Thirty percent is exported as grain and 68 percent is processed by the oilseed industry within Argentina. Ninety-three percent of soybean oil and ninety-nine percent of by-products (meals) are then exported, according to FAS.
Argentina is forecast to supply more than 50% of world soybean oil exports and more than 40% of soybean meal exports in MY2006/07. Major markets will continue to be China and India.
The USDA also estimates Argentina’s sunflower seed production and area at 3.8 MMT and 2.2 MHAS, respectively.
It’s that pool of potential feedstocks that the nascent Argentine biofuels industry would like to tap.