ARGENTINA, the South American nation with boundless agricultural potential that has been not been fully realised due primarily to political instability, has awoken from its slumber and could potentially improve its grain production by up to 16 per cent above current growth forecasts, taking total all grain production as high as 173 million tonnes.
This was the opinion of Argentinean grains industry expert Ramiro Costa, of the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange.
Speaking at this week's Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Outlook conference in Canberra, Mr Costa said a combination of improved logistics, allowing farmers better access to markets to make it worth planting in more remote areas and technology advances would drive the production gains.
Baseline grain production, without further improvements is forecast to rise to 149m tonnes, with 85m tonnes of that cereals and the remainder oilseeds, but with the improvements that figure soars by some 24m tonnes to make Argentina a serious player in the global grains industry.
"We have a high cost of moving grain, whether it is via road or via the rivers, so improving the infrastructure to allow farmers to get their product to market cheaper would make a big difference," Mr Costa said.
"In Argentina we are not so different to you in Australia in that we must focus on the export market, we are not such a big nation, only 40 million people, so while there is some product that goes to the domestic market, more grain goes to export."
In terms of in-paddock advances he said that while some farmers had embraced new technology, such as no-till farming systems, there were still others yet to take it up.
"There are further gains to be made in terms of uptake of technology and systems, even though some are already using modern methods."
Mr Costa said Argentina's ag sector had rebounded strongly since the election of a new government, under president Mauricio Macri, had been elected in 2015.
Prior to that there had been a financial crisis with high inflation and high export duties on grain, which had a particularly big impact on wheat production.
However, Mr Costa cautioned that while there had been strong growth rates in Argentine agriculture over the past three years, a general election this year could create more of the political instability which have created problems for the farm sector over the years.
Argentina is already a powerhouse in many different commodity sectors, a massive producer of both corn and soybeans and, similar to Australia, a counterseasonal producer of wheat.
Apart from grains it has a strong viticulture sector while its famed red meat industry is also rebounding after a tough period.