The business climate in the agricultural sector threatens to fill with storm clouds. In the midst of the conflict that agriculture maintains with the national government due to the increase in withholdings on soybeans, the lack of water that is beginning to be seen in some areas of the most productive region of the country adds uncertainty to the activity.
At this juncture, the Expoagro 2020 edition YPF Agro, the mega exhibition that started yesterday in San Nicolás (Buenos Aires) and that will continue until Friday, with the largest offer of agricultural machinery, supplies and services for the sector.
After going through the first 60 days of the year with a better performance than in the first two months of 2019, the agricultural machinery industry is betting on maintaining this upward trend.
Through a line from Banco Nación, a total of 60 factories have 3,000 million pesos to lend during the exhibition, at an interest rate of between 23 and 25 percent per year.
To achieve this cost of financing, the companies subsidize 10 points of the rate and the national government another two.
“We have to offer the producer conditions so that he can acquire technology and that is why we assist him with financing at subsidized interest rates by companies,” said Roberto Ascanelli, head of the Ascanellli de Río Tercero company.
The Banco de Córdoba (Bancor) also has “soft” loans in pesos, a line in which 45 companies intervene.
During the fair, it offers loans with preferential rates of 21.5 percent (annual nominal rate) for 36 months and 23.5 to 48 months to finance machinery and equipment from firms that make up the Association of Manufacturers of Agricultural Machinery and Agrocomponents of Córdoba (Afamac ) and also those produced by Case New Holland (CNH).
In addition, it promotes a line of loans for agricultural inputs with a rate that starts from 22 percent and lasts up to 12 months.
In a tour carried out by this means by the Buenos Aires racetrack, which serves as an exhibition for more than 550 companies, you can see the palette of financing carried out by public and private banks and also by the companies themselves.
The offer ranges from three-year term dollar assistance, at a rate of three percent per year, to zero-year peso lines with one-year term.
Credit has been the main driving force behind the marketing of agricultural machinery in recent years and has come to represent more than 85 percent of sales.
Financing at subsidized rates, either by companies or the State (national or provincial) and which translates into a financial cost below inflation, was a strategy available to the sector during the last years of the Cristina Fernández government.
In the second half of 2015, for example, the Central Bank had established that subsidized lines of “productive investment” should have a fixed nominal rate in pesos of 18 percent per year for a minimum term of 36 months, against annual inflation in that time was 30 percent. In Mauricio Macri’s management this modality stopped operating.
Although the rate subsidy has a high financial cost for companies, Ascanelli recognizes that it allows to keep the flow of sales and the factories running.
In recent days, the climate has also become a matter of concern in the industry linked to agricultural production. “We are seeing stress in the Córdoba area in some soybeans and corn due to lack of water, which could complicate yields. Hopefully it does not impact the mood of the producer, “said the businessman.
With the strategy of maintaining the inertia of the previous months, the Metalfor company is also betting on its own financing. “We do it with rates that go from zero percent to 25.9 percent in three years,” said Miguel Becchio, Marketing manager of the Marcos Juárez company.
Since the focus is on stimulating the national industry, almost all bank financing is for machinery manufactured in the country (more than 60 percent of local components).
Projection of the Ieral of the Mediterranean Foundation.
U $ S 1,189 M: Estimate. According to the economist Juan Manuel Garzón, investment in agricultural machinery would have reached 1,189 million dollars in 2019.
Córdoba launched its 4.0 plan for the sector
The Association of Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers of Córdoba (Afamac) and the Chamber of Computer, Electronic and Communications Industries (Ciieca) launched the “Mate 4.0” program, which aims to make the local industry more competitive through the incorporation of “smart” equipment and systems.
“We aim to be able to compete on an equal footing with first-rate companies from all over the world,” summarized the head of Afamac, Fernando Zaragosí, when presenting the initiative at Expoagro.
The acronym “Mate” encompasses the terms machinery and technology. Afamac’s director of innovation, Lisandro Tron, specified that the objective is “to work behind the scenes, with the focus on improving productivity through the implementation of smart production technologies.”
Technicians from the National Technological University (UTN) of San Francisco will carry out diagnoses in the firms associated with Afamac, to detect what the innovation needs are. Then, it will be the turn to work with the firms associated with Ciieca to activate the improvements.
Ricardo Ruival, president of that entity, stressed the importance of thinking of transformation 4.0 as a competitive axis. He considered it a “disruptive” fact that these innovations are projected in an associative way and added that the idea is that the electronic and software companies associated with the Chamber offer between 10 and 15 percent discount to the metalworking industries so that they can achieve the necessary technological change.
The project is funded by the Córdoba Agency for Economic Development (Adec). The vice president of this entity, Ricardo Occhipinti, valued these types of initiatives that “generate transversal development” and that serve to promote a market that is already at the forefront of the world. “We have machinery that already exceeds that of other parts of the world,” he said.
The plan is also part of the provincial government, through the ministries of industry and agriculture.
The original text of this article was published on 03/11/2020 in our printed edition.