Paraguay seeks to move 100 soybean barges on better river conditions

1 Sep 2020 | Juan Pedro Tomas

A total of 100 Paraguayan barges carrying 120,000 mt of soybean are expected to complete shipments to ports in Argentina and Uruguay by September 10 thanks to a window of opportunity due to improved conditions in the level of Parana river, the head of Paraguay’s maritime and shipping chamber, CAFyM, told Agricensus.

Following these shipments, approximately 500,000 mt of beans will be still trapped in ports and storage facilities across the country, CAFyM head Juan Carlos Munoz said.  

He added that the government of Paraguay was studying the possibility to release more water from the Itaipu in order to improve the levels of the Parana river.

“However, this is not decided yet. We are waiting to see the natural evolution of the river’s influx to request this,” the executive said.

Also, the Itaipu dam, which sits on the border between Paraguay and Brazil and is jointly operated by the two nations, also continues to boost electricity generation for an unspecified period to temporarily raise Parana water levels.

The final destinations of these barges are usually the ports of Rosario, in Argentina, and Nueva Palmira, in Uruguay.

Soybeans that cannot be shipped by barges will have to be transported to ports located on the Paraguay River via lorries, resulting in higher logistics costs for producers.

Paraguay produced 10.6 million mt of soybeans in the 2019/20 cycle, up 34% from the previous cycle, according to national production association UGP.

The USDA expects soybean production in Paraguay to reach 10.25 million mt in the 2020/21 season, with soybean exports in 2019/20 and 2020/21 forecast to reach 5.9 million mt and 6.3 million mt respectively.

Paraguay exported a total of 4.76 million mt of soybeans between January and July, a 15.6% increase on the same period of 2019, according to the latest data from the country’s central bank shows.

Exports to Argentina, Paraguay’s largest soybean importer, reached 3.76 million mt in the period, up 28.7% year-on-year.