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Argentina's rising grains supply strains key river

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 01:31

Argentina is looking at ways to develop a key waterway in order to carry more of the country's grains exports. As Ciara Lee reports, a government initiative to boost the economy has left the Parana river struggling to cope with the amount of traffic.

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Just keeping the Parana River free of obstuctions is a big job. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PIETER JAN DE NUL, AN AREA MANAGER FOR THE COMPANY JAN DE NUL, SAYING: "One of the biggest challenges is the fact that we are dredging 1,200 kilometres of river, all the way from the ocean up to Corrientes, which has to be maintained at depth 24-7, 365." Argentina is a major exporter. It's the world's third largest supplier of soy and corn and the seventh biggest wheat exporter. And when it comes to soymeal feed for animals no-one exports more. The Parana is key to it all - 80 percent of grain is carried along the river. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARTIN FRAGUIO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE MAIZAR CORN INDUSTRY CHAMBER, SAYING: "The Parana River is probably the backbone or the main transportation media that we have for the future." But the river is struggling to cope with an increase in traffic. The government wants to grow 25 percent more grains to boost its struggling economy and has cut export taxes to attract investment. The channel's operator wants to dredge deeper to enable heavier ships to use it. But shippers fear the costs would be passed on to them. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PIETER JAN DE NUL, AN AREA MANAGER FOR THE COMPANY JAN DE NUL, SAYING: "What we hear and what we see is that there's a large increase in volume that is being shipped over the river due to the government's effort to stimulate export." It's a dilemma the government is now considering, especially after a barge was grounded last month blocking the river for hours. But no-one wants to dig deeper into their pockets in order to pay for the expansion.

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Argentina's rising grains supply strains key river

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 01:31