Argentina’s agricultural output not only fills the nation’s domestic needs but also provides exports for foreign markets. Of Argentina’s land area of about 274 million hectares (about 676 million acres), 10 percent is cultivated, 12 percent forested, and about one-half is used for pasturing cattle and sheep. The most important agricultural zone of the country is the Pampas, where wheat and other cereal grains are grown. Irrigated areas, from the Río Negro north through Mendoza, San Juan, Tucumán, and San Salvador de Jujuy, are rich sources of fruit, vegetables, sugarcane, and wine grapes.
Livestock raising and slaughtering are major enterprises in Argentina, as are the refrigeration and processing of meat and animal products; total annual meat production is about 3 million metric tons, three-quarters of it from cattle. In 2007 there were some 50.8 million head of cattle, 12.4 million sheep, and 2.3 million pigs in Argentina. In addition, there were about 3.7 million horses; Argentine horses have won an international reputation as racehorses and polo ponies. Livestock exports play an important role in foreign trade. Earnings from meat, hides, and live animal exports in the early 21st century were about $1.9 billion annually, or about 7 percent of total export earnings.
Argentina has long ranked as a world leader in the export of raw meat. Cooked and canned meats are also increasingly important exports.
Argentina also produces and exports large quantities of wool; in 2006, 60,000 metric tons of wool were produced. The Patagonia region is home to about 40 percent of all sheep in Argentina. Wheat is Argentina’s most important crop. The country is among the major producers of wheat in the world.
In 2007, the wheat crop totaled 14 million metric tons. Other major cash crops were maize, soybeans, and sorghum. Other major field crops include barley, sunflower seeds, sugarcane, potatoes, rice, and tobacco, as well as grapes, oranges, apples, lemons, and grapefruit.
Situated mainly in mountain areas distant from centers of population, Argentina’s 33 million hectares (81.6 million acres) of forest are relatively unused. Among the most harvested trees are elm and willow, for cellulose production; white quebracho, for fuel; red quebracho, for tannin (used for tanning leather); and cedar, for the manufacture of furniture. Other economically important trees are oak, araucaria, pine, eucalyptus, and cypress.
Argentina’s fisheries, potentially highly productive, have not been fully exploited, although production has increased steadily since the 1960s. In 2007 the catch was 1,184,713 metric tons. Argentine hake and squid are an important part of the catch. "Argentina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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