An initiative that began in Santiago del Estero to produce organic seeds, a key input, and supply family producers, aims to expand to all horticultural crops and to other provinces of the NOA and Cuyo.
With more than 3 million certified hectares, Argentina ranks second in the world ranking of organic production. The sector maintains a firm volume of exports and a growing demand. In addition, it is betting on gaining ground in the local market and strengthening the development of family businesses with the generation of certified quality seeds in the country.
Facundo Soria, professor of the Organic Production area of the Faculty of Agronomy of the UBA (FAUBA), highlighted the recent start-up of the first Organic Seed Production Center in Argentina, which was inaugurated in Termas de Río Hondo, Santiago del Estero, based on the joint work of the Ministry of Agroindustry of the Nation with other institutions such as FAUBA and the provincial and municipal governments. The objective is to produce seeds of certified organic quality to supply, in a first stage, 7 thousand producers with this key input.
According to Soria, who also coordinates the Organic Production area of the Ministry of Agroindustry, currently there is not a large quantity of quality organic seeds in the country (many times they have low germination or purity power) for a wide variety of crops. That is why it was decided to start working on this key input in Santiago del Estero, first with vegetables and cucurbits, and in the future with other crops of interest.
In addition, the aim is to replicate the seed production center in other NOA provinces, such as Catamarca, Tucumán and Salta. Also in Cuyo: "Another key province to follow is San Juan," said Soria, for whom it is also essential to increase the diversity of other species.
A growing sector
According to the statistics of the National Service of Agrifood Health and Quality (Senasa), organic production in Argentina shows an interannual growth of 3%, with an increase of 13% per year in its exports, whose main destinations are the United States, the Union European, Switzerland and Japan.
The Ministry of Agroindustry recently reported that our country has 1,157 primary operators, 349 processors and 111 certified traders; 204,000 hectares destined to vegetable production, 77,042 hectares harvested, plus 176 thousand tons exported. “Basically oilseeds, grains, wines, tea, meat, honey and wool are sold abroad. In recent years, the domestic market has also been awakening, which is very necessary ”, explained Soria.
Organic seeds must comply with the so-called Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), which guarantee the safety and safety of the worker, and with a specific quality protocol: the national organic regulations, based on five main principles that cover soil care, biodiversity, the prohibition of the use of agrochemicals and transgenics, and (in the case of livestock) animal welfare is also added. Finally, the value of traceability stands out, which allows the history of the crop to be reconstructed through records and documents throughout the entire production and marketing chain. Compliance with these principles is endorsed by Senasa, which authorizes certifying entities for their control, while the National Seed Institute (Inase) verifies the quality of the seeds.
Universities are also an important axis for the sector, as generators of knowledge. FAUBA, where Soria teaches Organic Production, also participates in the Advisory Commission for Organic Production, created 20 years ago to promote policies for the sector, with Mario Clozza, professor in charge of the Organic Plant Production area and director of the Technical Degree in Organic Plant Production of FAUBA, as the leader of the academic sector. In addition, the role of the Catholic University of Santiago del Estero (UCSE) as a promoter of knowledge with a focus on the NOA is highlighted.
“There is a national strategic plan that focuses on some lines, such as the need to develop organic seeds and, also, work on peri-urban areas. The idea of nuclear municipalities and cities that have regulated the use of agrochemicals, to strengthen green belts and to return to produce in a healthy way under agroecological principles ”, concluded Soria.
By Juan Manuel Repetto