MENTION Argentina and agriculturalists immediately associate the country with beef.
But it is the humble soybean which takes pride of place as the country's leading export, well ahead of its next largest industries - cereal production, automotives and petrochemicals.
The importance of the soybean to Argentinian agriculture and exports was repeatedly emphasised at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress held in Argentina in October.
Soybean production has been embraced with open arms, with Argentina increasing production of the oilseed from 11.5 million tonnes across 2,428,114 hectares in 1990 to 50mt across 8,093,713ha in 2013.
More than US$2.5 billion has been invested into developing the soybean industry in the past decade and as a result, 60 per cent of the world's soy biodiesel and more than 40pc of global soybean oil and soy meal production now stem from Argentina.
Rosario Chamber of Commerce researcher Rogelio Pontón said the soybean industry represented an important anti-inflationary tool for the Argentinian government, as well as a much-needed source of foreign currency since its last economic crisis in 2001-02.
Since 1881, the Argentine currency has depreciated about 40 trillion times in relation to gold, resulting in the chronic illiquidity of the Argentine economy.
The domestic currency in Argentina is 25pc of its gross domestic product, one of the lowest in the world.
In 2012-13, the value of soybean complex exports was US$26 billion, the result of producing 48.3mt of soybeans.
Soybean exports accounted for 7mt, soybean oil exports 4.5mt, soybean meal exports 29mt and biodiesel exports 1mt.
The strength of the soybean export market has resulted in Argentina relying on its continued growth, particularly to China, which represents 60pc of the world's soybean market.
- Full report in Stock Journal, November 14 issue, 2013.
- Like Stock Journal on Facebook