Some 700,000 hectares are under water in the southwestern province of Buenos Aires, the heart of the Argentine agricultural power, threatening the soybean crops and about 500,000 heads of livestock, local producers said yesterday.
Soybeans, of which Argentina is the third largest producer, was already hit by drought and production should decrease by 18.5% from about 49 million tonnes in 2011 to 41 this year, according to forecasts by Bolsa de Cereales, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange.
But it is now floods that threatens a province as large as Italy. “The situation is alarming,” said the head of the Rural Society of Bolivar (between 300 and 500 southwest of Buenos Aires). “It’s frustrating to see the countryside under water and hundreds of thousands of cattles in danger, especially since 40% of the harvest is still underway”.
All began two weeks ago: the first night it rained 200 mm in some areas and an average of 850 mm over the last five months. In the department of Bolivar alone, there are between 350,000 and 400,000 cattles, according to the Rural Society, and 200,000 hectares, mostly soybean fields.
This area was hit a few months ago by a severe drought. “We went from a drought that lasted until Jan. 15 to a flood”, complains another senior Bolivar, Fernando Alzueta. “There are fields affected at 80 or 90%,” he said, adding: “If the rain continues, we could have the worst case scenario for decades.”
The heavy rains that affected the Buenos Aires region this weekend caused severe flooding in the city of Azul, 300 km southwest of Buenos Aires, where the overflow of a river forced 2,000 people to evacuate their homes.