The project started in 1991 with an agreement between Partners of the Americas Inc., a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington DC, and Agropecuaria El Valle S.A., an agricultural enterprise with offices in Buenos Aires and Catamarca, Argentina. This technical cooperation was made possible through the Farmer to Farmer program, financed by the Congress of the United States as a part of the 1990-95 Farm Bill (Public Law 480), and the Agency for International Development (USAID).
Subsequently, The University of Arizona, the University of California, the National University of Catamarca, the Rural Group Pulares, and the government of the province of Salta joined the project. In 1995 four grower organizations from the province of Jujuy also joined. These are CREA Los Lapachos, Union Caneros Independientes de Jujuy and Salta, Cooperativa de Tabacaleros de Jujuy, and La Camara del Tabaco de Jujuy.
Growers, processors and marketing agencies must be involved and share the risks in all four phases of this development process for it to be the most effective. Under these conditions all of the involved parties are unified through contracts, a common information base, and personal involvement. Because this concept of widespread involvement and responsibility is an integral part of the Northwestern Argentina Regional project, the growers, processors and marketing agencies have all assumed a degree of the cost, and hence risk, with it.
The work reported in this manuscript took place in the Yungas and Chaco ecosystems, within the provinces of Catamarca, Jujuy, Salta, and Tucuman. The project began in 1991 and is planned for continuation at least through 1996, with the objective being to evaluate potential industrial crops and then bring them into production. Ancillary objectives are to bring about a better public understanding of how new crops can improve the economic situation in northwestern Argentina, and to promote closer cooperation between northwestern Argentina and the southwestern United States.
Seventeen scientists, growers and company managers have been brought from the U.S. to Argentina to provide technical assistance. Areas of expertise have included agronomy, genetics, plant physiology, mechanization, processing, economics, and marketing.
Nineteen professors from the National University of Catamarca and three from the University of La Rioja travelled to the U.S. for specialized training programs lasting from 2 to 3 months. The time was spent at either the University of Arizona, or the University of California. In 1994, two members of a women's agricultural cooperative from Catamarca participated in the exchange program and spent time in California, Arizona and Northern Mexico, where they were able to exchange ideas on new crop production with growers and researchers.
Through the trials, six species have been identified which appear to hold significant potential for the region. These are: chia, lesquerella, vernonia, and chan which are sources of industrial oil; guayule, a source of rubber, resins, and latex; and kenaf, a raw material for paper and newsprint. Of these crops, only lesquerella and chia have been grown commercially. For the others, trials are continuing to evaluate cultivars and/or sites in order to identify those crops and locations which hold the greatest commercial potential for northwestern Argentina. Some of the results are presented here.
The total oil yield is very low compared to other commercially grown oil seed crops. Because this is a new crop, it is necessary to conduct further tests and examine the analysis techniques which were used in the laboratory to determine oil quantity and distribution. Environmental factors which might have affected the results also need to be investigated before a sound conclusion can be drawn regarding the quantity and quality of oil contained in the seed.
Kenaf was first planted in Argentina on a commercial scale in late 1995. Plans called for planting 25 ha using three cultivars, with the idea being to use the plantings not only to determine the production potential of the three cultivars which had demonstrated the best performance in the plots, but also to evaluate alternative harvesting technologies and determine which might be the most appropriate for the region. After harvest, the material was to be sent to a commercial operation to be pulped, and was then to be blended with bagasse pulp and made into paper. Unfortunately early 1996 was one of the driest summers on record in northwestern Argentina, and the extended trial had to be abandoned. As a consequence only two hectares were sown. Plans still call for this field to be used to test alternative harvesting methodologies, although in a more limited scale. Pulping will take place provided that a commercial entity can be located that is willing to work with a limited amount of material.
In general the vernonia yields are low, on a per hectare basis, as compared to other oilseed crops. The values were determined for rows planted 1 m on center. This spacing conforms to USDA test plots, and allows comparison with their data. In a commercial situation, row spacing would be on the order of 150-200 mm, significantly increasing yields. Pest and disease problems at both sites also decreased yield.
Results of this study show that additional trials are required to determine not only the highest producing varieties, but also to assess yields as influenced by time of harvest. Plans call for these tests to be undertaken starting in June 1996.
Chia and lesquerella have been commercially produced in the provinces of Catamarca, Salta, and Tucuman. The seed produced has been exported to the United States, with contracts for its production being signed between the growers and commercial enterprises from Argentina and the U.S. Table 6 lists the sites and number of growers that have been involved in the commercial production of these crops.
From Table 6 it can be seen that the number of farms and growers involved in the production of chia and lesquerella on a commercial basis has varied. The reasons for this have been the degree of success realized by each grower, and the level of satisfaction arising from being involved with the introduction of a new crop.
The commercial yields of both chia and lesquerella have varied from year to year, and from location to location. This is due to a number of factors including cultural practices, climate, weed infestations and harvesting techniques used. Cultural practices purposely have not been standardized across farms, as it is the intent of the project to allow farmers to use those cultural practices with which they are familiar to grow the new crops, while providing them with overall guidance as to how best to produce each crop.
Analyses of the chia seed which was commercially harvested in 1995 showed viability to range from 78% to 87%. Purity ranged from 84% to 97.5%. This is considered excellent, especially given the small size of the seed and the difficulties which were encountered with the harvesting and cleaning processes. These data demonstrate that chia can be commercially produced in northwestern Argentina.
Table 7 provides a comparison of the returns that can be realized from chia production, as compared to two traditional crops found in the region. The higher returns from chia have in large part prompted a significant increase in acreage planted in 1996.
The success of the program is clearly demonstrated by the increasing numbers of hectares of chia being grown in northwestern Argentina. It is anticipated that this trend will continue and that the same thing will occur for lesquerella and kenaf. Such success is possible because the program is dynamic. Many organizations and growers are already a part of this project and they expect to take advantage of the conditions which exist to benefit their own enterprises. Others in the community benefit as a result of improved economics. The dynamic, open nature of the Northwest Argentina Regional Project means that other organizations and growers interested in the benefits of new industrial crops, including diversification of their cropping practices, are welcome to join the program at any time.
|Location||Province||South latitude||Elevation (m)||Rainfall (mm)|
|C. de Valle||Catamarca||28° 36'||454||437|
|El Carril||Salta||25° 03'||1069||624|
|Location||Biomass (kg/ha)||Seed (kg/ha)||Total oil (%)||Palmitic (%)||Palmitoleic (%)||Stearic (%)||Oleic (%)||Linoleic (%)||Linolenic (%)|
|Location (no. of years)|
|Cultivar||Sumalaoz (t/ha)||Alberdi (t/ha)||Metan (t/ha)||Yutoy (t/ha)||Pichanalz|
|Tainung 2||13.3 (3 yr)||9.4 (2 yr)||7.7 (2 yr)||11.3 (1 yr)||6.0 (2 yr)|
|Cubano||10.9 (3 yr)||7.1 (2 yr)||7.2 (2 yr)||7.7 (1 yr)||5.9 (2 yr)|
|Cuba 108||10.0 (3 yr)||11.4 (1 yr)||6.9 (1 yr)||--||4.3 (1 yr)|
|Tainung 1||9.9 (3 yr)||6.8 (2 yr)||7.4 (2 yr)||8.4 (1 yr)||4.9 (2 yr)|
|15-2||9.5 (3 yr)||7.2 (1 yr)||9.8 (1 yr)||--||8.0 (1 yr)|
|Everglades 41||8.9 (3 yr)||8.28 (2 yr)||7.3 (2 yr)||9.8 (1 yr)||5.6 (2 yr)|
|SF 45-9||8.9 (3 yr)||6.4 (2 yr)||7.5 (2 yr)||10.6 (1 yr)||8.4 (2 yr)|
|Everglades 71||8.3 (3 yr)||7.5 (2 yr)||8.1 (2 yr)||10.4 (1 yr)||7.3 (2 yr)|
|SF-192||--||8.2 (2 yr)||8.2 (2 yr)||7.5 (1 yr)||7.7 (2 yr)|
|N-7||--||7.0 (2 yr)||5.6 (2 yr)||8.4 (1 yr)||5.2 (2 yr)|
|19-117-2||10.9 (2 yr)||--||--||--||--|
|Guatemala 51||11.6 (2 yr)||--||--||--||--|
|78-18 RS 10||7.8 (2 yr)||--||--||--||--|
|Cultivar||Seed yield (kg/ha)||Oil (%)||1000 seed wt (g)||Seed yield (kg/ha)|
|Line||Biomass (g/plant)||Rubber content (%)|
|1992||C. del Valle||Catamarca||1||14||14||14|
|1993||C. del Valle||Catamarca||1||70||70|
|1994||C. del Valle||Catamarca||2||3||1.5|
|V. de Lermaz||Salta||1||3||3||31|
|1995||C. del Valle||Catamarca||2||3||1.5|
|V. de Lerma||Salta||5||40||8|
|1996||V. de Lerma||Salta||6||120||20|
|1992||C. del Valle||Catamarca||1||12||12||12|
|1993||C. del Valle||Catamarca||1||2||2||2|
|Crop||Yield (kg/ha)||Price ($/t)||Gross |