Country Review: Argentina Orgainc Policies
Apr. 6, 2021
The latest reports from the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA) on the “Situation of Organic Production in Argentina” highlighted a growing trend in organic production over the last 10 years. There was also an increase in domestic consumption and the exportation of certified organic products.
Although the adoption of organic culture is currently at an early stage, there are approximately 1,700 producers occupying 3.7 million hectares under monitoring, with 98% of their production being destined for export, mainly to the US (44%) and the EU (41%).
When facing the new changes to organic farming and the increasing demands versus the outdated versions of the two major regulations, Agrochem Sonsultores S.R.L. formed a new society, whose primary objective is to support the advising, registration and hosting of more environmentally friendly products, such as biostimulants, biofertilizers, biocontrollers, semiochemicals, botanical extracts and elicitors.
Changes have occurred to agrochemical, biological and organic inputs
In Argentina, there are two related regulations, “Resol. 350/99" for phytosanitary products and "Resol. 264/11" for fertilizers where all chemical, organic, biological, botanical and semi-chemical inputs are listed and classified.
In recent years, these regulations have not been updated or expanded to new technologies and new developments to more environmentally-friendly substances, although some regulatory exceptions have been incorporated for biological products.
There is still a long way to go, but efforts are being made to improve classifications and define requirements according to the profile of each product, as is happening in other countries in the region, as well as the US and Europe, to avoid evaluating bio-inputs under the regulatory matrix of chemical synthesis products.
Regulations and policies in Argentina on organic agriculture
Firstly, in terms of the political outlook towards organic agriculture, although the policies have their up sides and down sides, in general, they have helped encourage developments to organic and agroecological production.
In 2020, under Resol. 1441, the National Directorate of Agroecology, was created. Recently, under Resol. 17/2021, the "Strategic Plan for the Argentine Organic Production Sector 2030" was also launched, with the aim of promoting fiscal instruments, organizational forms of association, incentives for increasing productive and industrial units, incentives for exports, and the development and availability of inputs suitable for organic production.
This step is in line with current regulations related covering inputs for organic production, specifically Resol. 374/2016 of the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA), which aims to enhance the production, marketing, control and certification systems of organic products, as well as the registry of accepted inputs.
Argentina recognizes product accreditations approved by international organizations, such as OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute), IOAS and IFOAM Organics International.
Organic production utilizes techniques that improve the biodiversity of the soil and the environment, protecting crops within the thresholds of economic damage. The use of chemically-synthesized products and GMOs are not allowed.
SENASA, through the Directorate of Strategy and Risk Analysis - Ecological Productions, is the governmental body that applies and supervises regulations.
Procedures from registration, certification, application in organic farming
Argentina does not have regulatory exceptions for the registration of inputs destined for organic production like in other countries, such as Brazil and the US. All inputs must be registered under the same SENASA but in the Directorate of Agrochemicals and Biologicals (DAyB), dependent on the National Directorate of Plant Protection, according to guidelines established in Resol. 350/99 and Resol. 264/11 mentioned in previous paragraphs.
This factor can be considered an obstacle, as the evaluation timeframe is similar to that of synthesized products. The complexity of framing certain substances and unclassified uses, in addition to scarce human and professional resources, can discourage the development and registration of these technologies.
Once a product is approved by the DAyB, it is registered in the Ecological Productions area already mentioned, under a simple and fast procedure.
Finally, private certification companies, with the auditing intervention of SENASA, carry out the monitoring of field production and certify final product as organic for local consumption or export.
Future and trends
The Argentinean agricultural market is not unfamiliar with what is happening in other important global markets, such as the US, the EU and Japan, where the promotion of more sustainable and environmentally-friendly activities is being imposed both at government and consumer levels. The discussion about the application of chemically synthesized substances and inorganic salt-based fertilizers and their consequences is significantly affecting public opinion and a debate is being conducted. Traditional agriculture is based on the application of agrochemicals or agroecology. A paradigm shift is required, which, given the structure of the business, will be difficult to achieve in the short-term.
In the middle of this dilemma, there are the friendlier product alternatives, such as those for certified organic agriculture, whose competitiveness and availability for the consumer can change habits without incurring greater costs. For this to happen, we believe that there must be a state presence with encouraging and promoting policies, in coordination with the private sector, to find solutions for these segments.
Argentina’s contribution to the increase in consumption worldwide is hardly significant. For example, the rise in the US in 2020 was 14.2% compared to the previous year. This growth is due to the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also and fundamentally, due to the work carried out over several years to encourage the development of organic productions.
According to a survey of 944 production establishments throughout the country, only 5% of agricultural producers use organic products or bio pesticides, and even so, the future outlook is promising, as 36% of farmers believe this trend will increase. Of those who used biological products, 85% have a positive evaluation of the product (20% say it is very good and 65% say it is good), while only 15% maintain a negative or regular result.
Argentina is a country that has can progress further, through continuous debates and discussions within various productive and governmental spheres, where different realities, challenges and opportunities can be discussed. Argentina has the potential to be a regional and world leader in organic production, but we have to strengthen public-private partnerships, create changes where they are needed, and set off towards progress.
Norberto Arias has worked in the agricultural inputs sector for more than 30 years, holding managerial positions in important companies in the areas of commercialization, marketing, technical and regulatory assistance. He is part of a well-trained team of agricultural engineers with a Bachelor of Biology and Bachelor of Chemistry degrees, who aim to strengthen relationships with official agencies.
The Agrochem Consultores and its partner company, Nastia, specialize in regulation and offer advice, coordinate, register and host agrochemical products, fertilizers and post-harvest products.
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