Paraguay and Bolivia Crop Acreage

Paraguay To Produce 6.0 mt Of Soybeans In 2009-10

In addition to prices and weather, the soybean farmers in Paraguay have to also worry about the social/economic situation in the country. Last year there were violent conflicts between landless squatters and Brazilian soybean farmers in eastern Paraguay. Violence erupted as squatter groups tried to seize property and disrupt farming operations on land owned by Brazilians. These groups, which were encouraged on by the federal government, feel that the Brazilians purchased the land illegally and that they should be forced out. The situation has calmed down for the time being, but it remains to be seen if these groups resume their protest activities as the planting season approaches.

It is estimated that the soybean acreage in Paraguay will be unchanged from 2008-09 (2.3 million hectares), but I will be the first to admit that the situation could change very quickly if the landless squatters decide to resume their disruptive protests. Soybean acreage in Paraguay has been increasing steadily for a number of years; so holding the acreage unchanged would be going against the recent trend.

The total soybean production in Paraguay is estimated at 6.0 million tons, which would be a significant improvement over the 3.8 million tons produced last year. Last year's production was probably an aberration due the severe drought in the region and the social conflicts that disrupted the planting of the crop.

Bolivia To Produce 1.5 mt Of Soybeans In 2009-10

Soybean farmers in Bolivia are also facing significant social and political pressures. The farmers in the eastern lowlands are in a bitter struggle with the indigenous-run government of the western highlands. Its almost like there are two different countries inside of Bolivia. The eastern lowlands is where the agriculture, industry, and natural gas is located, but the western highlands holds the majority of the population. The indigenous-run government is trying to exert more control over the resource-rich lowlands, which has resulted in violent clashes between the two groups. The soybeans in Bolivia are grown in these eastern lowlands by mostly Brazilian farmers who moved to Bolivia in search of cheaper land. Needless to say, the attitude toward the Brazilian farmers has turned hostile and it is uncertain how all this will play out.

Brazilian farmers are going to be very cautious about investing their limited resources in Bolivia because no one knows if there will be allowed to stay in the country. Under such uncertainty, it is estimated that the Bolivian soybean acreage will be less than last year (0.75 million hectares vs. 0.8 million) and the total Bolivian soybean production will be only 1.5 million tons.