Agriculture Cooperation between Paraguay and India

Paraguay Special Report 2019 By Lía Rodríguez de la Vega1, y Matías Iglesias2 *

Agriculture Cooperation between Paraguay and India

Wheat, which is a winter crop and therefore subject to the rigor of the same and in the Paraguayan case, frost and out of season rains represent the main threats.

Agriculture is one of the most traditional and important economic and social activities in Paraguay. In this context, great transformations have taken place in this domain during the last forty years: the agricultural frontier has been extended, new crops have been introduced, with new technology and management practices, incorporating agricultural machinery, etc. Such changes are related to the economic development of the country, in the circumstance of structural changes in the productive and social matrix of the country.

Technified agriculture (based on the knowledge and use of modern technologies) is the most expanded and covers the largest area of the country, being one of its characteristics, the pursuit of profitability generation with sustainable management of resources, optimizing all elements for obtaining greater quantities of the product. Although there are some companies that are dedicated to the crops of this category, their actors are in general farmers’ sole proprietors of the land, who work with relatives.

This agriculture sector is characterized by 1) sustainable management of soils, 2) genetic improvement of crops, 3) rotation of crops, 4) agricultural defensives (to cope with the attack of weeds, insects, etc.), 5) agricultural machinery, for efficient farming management, 6) participation of the financial system (with banks and financial institutions providing credit services for this sector), 7) use of silos (storage of production), transport and marketing, 8) industrialization, 9) globalization (several countries produce the main productive items, with the main purchasing countries establishing strategies to reduce risks and maximize revenues on a global scale), 10) technology (scientific research in both biotechnology, and growing sophistication of agricultural machinery), 11) applied to any crop and in Paraguay, the main technified crops are soy, wheat, rice and corn, 12) value chain structure or productive chain (it is not restricted to crops, but these products form a value chain composed of different links, which cover different sectors.

Among the main crops of technified agriculture in the country, the cultivation of soy is the most important in terms of extension, logistics, value of production and in economic terms. The evolution of its crop shows sustained growth, fed by favourable conditions such as the availability of land, knowledge and research on good management practices, etc. Its production is oriented to the satisfaction of internal demand for processing and that of the external market, so that the productive system as a whole receives important volumes of money, which mobilizes the entire national economy. The increase of production and export of soybean and its derivatives, generated the development of the logistic system that combines road and river transport.

As for the corn grown under this system, it has the main characteristic of being of inter-harvest, that is, it is not sown in summer, but after the soybean harvest, ensuring crop coverage and rotation. Paraguay has capacities and technologies for productive intensification, but this process can only occur when international prices are more attractive to farmers.

Wheat, which is a winter crop and therefore subject to the rigor of the same and in the Paraguayan case, frost and out of season rains represent the main threats. There is still much to be done in the marketing of wheat through a more intense process of segregation, which makes it possible to distinguish varieties and obtain better prices, being necessary to develop a marketing and logistics chain, in the style of the one that already has soybean trade.

Other crops of technified agriculture are sunflower and canola, which although are in high demand in the world market, remain secondary crops in the country, while the profitability of the productive system is concentrated in soybean, corn and wheat crops.

The context of family farming has undergone several transformations. Although the new rurality breaks with the close relationship between the rural space and agricultural production space, to become a territory that combines agricultural production, industrial, craft, residential and leisure activities, agriculture is still one of the most important activities in Paraguay.

According to what has been commented, it can be pointed out that in terms of cooperation between Paraguay and India, some possible lines to consider are: a) the negative effects of climate variability, especially in relation to irrigation (the Indian experience of digital information provision on climate and other aspects of the field of agriculture, may be of interest to Paraguay) (Rodriguez de la Vega, 2018), b) deepen collaboration that contributes to the linkage of farmers with animal production chains, which require the grains - again, the Indian experience of applications such as Agrimarket and mKisan, can be useful (Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India, 2019), c) cooperate in the optimization of rice production (the Indian experience of Rice Knowledge Bank, the Rice Knowledge Management Portal of the Indian Institute of Rice Research, may be of interest), d) exchange of knowledge in what it does to logistics and storage -India can contribute from its experience, own deficiencies and learning- (Singh Jaswal, 2014; Pandey, 2015), e) exchange of knowledge about the improvement of agricultural practices in general, emphasizing the way to avoid soil erosion -India has various experiences, for example in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh (Singh Jaswal, 2014), f) exchanges about strengthening the productive capacity of family farming -which can benefit both countries-, g) exchanges about how to favor the entry of more companies into the business of family farming, h) exchanges in terms of technical and scientific research to adapt varieties to the biophysical conditions of the region i) exchanges about the technical production of those items of mass consumption that are currently imported, almost in its entirety (potatoes, onions, garlic, among others), j) exchanges for the modification of the traditional scheme of productive growth, based on the purchase of land (horizontal expansion) to consider new strategies of productive intensification without incorporation of new plots (vertical expansion), k) the experience of the Indian Council of Research in Agriculture can contribute to exchanges about the necessary training for farmers, with the addition of the possibility of a deeper use of the ITEC scholarships (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation); l) exchanges in satellite technology applied to agriculture (Paraguayan Space Agency, born in 2014, is still at an early stage of its development and could benefit from the experience of the Indian satellite program); m) triangular South-South cooperation agreements, such as the ones recently signed between Paraguay, Argentina and South Korea for the development of agricultural capacities, whereby technicians and organizations of agricultural producers are strengthened on issues such as management and extended infrastructure for marketing and added value (World Bank, 2014; Grupo World Bank Agriculture, 2014; Ferreira and Vázquez, 2015; MREyC, 2018; Muñoz, Ludeña, García, Martel and Sammarco, 2015; Rodriguez de la Vega, 2018).

On the other hand, given that the increase in crop production is associated with other sectors of the economy, which can be mutually reinforcing, such as infrastructure, the dialogue between the exchange of knowledge-the possibility of investments and greater investment- and the synergy between research and design of public policies, between both countries, is desirable, with the certainty that such cooperation will be of great value for both.

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