Pedro and Lucía Matkovich, both 78 years old, live in the countryside. They cultivate on their own plots and on others that they rent. They work as a family. They have three children, 9 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. They have worked the land since they were young and do not know what a holiday is. with this family, TN shared the “rough debut” of the Argentine National Team in the world cup in Qatar.
A son, Juan, and a grandson, Matías were the early guides. The productive route is clear, on the road there are no grain carriers. The land of the fields is dry, waiting for rain. The sun illuminates the battered wheat. The planting of soybeans and corn is delayed due to the lack of moisture in the soil.
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At 6:30 we arrived at the farm, located in the El Cruce area, eight kilometers from La Violeta, Pergamino district. A few minutes later another Matkovich arrives, Rosalía, along with her husband Cristian and Genoveva, one of the daughters of this marriage.
The house is located at one of the most productive regions of the country, in the north of Buenos Aires, to the south of the so-called agricultural “nucleus zone” of the country, which also integrates the south of Santa Fe and the southeast of Cordoba. There, the Matkovich couple decided to stay and live. It is his place in the world: the field. But, of course, they do not live in isolation. They live the soccer passion as in all corners of the country.
Upon arrival, Pedro welcomes us with a smile. The Argentine flag shines at the door of the house. The talk begins with a problem that has producers staring at the sky: the lack of rain. About to celebrate 60 years of marriage, Pedro and Lucía say that they never saw a drought like the one that hits production of grains in this campaign.
“With Lucía we have lived our whole lives in the countryside and we have never seen anything like it. The drought did not let up. There are lots that it is not convenient to put the machines because there is nothing. We have no record that we have not harvested. We are not going to harvest the peas because there is nothing. You can’t see the chaucha, in the field, ”she said. And Juan remarks that “there is no point in harvesting the peas, because they did not germinate”.
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Outside, the cows wait for Matías, who is in charge of going to the corral where they concentrate the scarce livestock production. The young man was in charge of taking the animals out for them to eat. The dogs are part of the countryside scenery. Attached to the house you can see a green lot of alfalfa to feed the animals.
“With the last rains, we are going to continue advancing with the planting work. We are a little late due to the lack of water. We are on date and this last rain allows us to move forward”, explained Juan.
But he clarified that “it is necessary that the weather accompany with some weekly rain, the profile is not loaded with water. It has zero humidity. It is very superficial and we will see what happens when the temperature starts to rise. These rains allow us to sow prime soybeans and some batches of late corn in December.”
Mates and homemade cake
Then the game will come and the chat between mate and mate. The table has homemade cake and bills. The shirts of the Argentine team are also present. Genoveva and Matías wear it with pride.
The game starts and Lionel Messi surprises with a shot that the Arab goalkeeper deflects. Then comes the penalty that the Argentine captain converted into a goal. It explodes the living room of the Matkovichs. The cry is lost in the pampean plain. La Scaloneta invites you to get excited. Then the three goals annulled by the VAR (Video Assistant Referee).
From illusion to disappointment, on the playing field and in the lots
At the beginning of the second half, the goals from Saudi Arabia arrive. Surprise invades the family. We all do “strength” for a draw that does not come, like the rains that this spring have been so elusive.
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“The barley suffered three frosts, it will be giving 1500 kilos, we accommodate everything and then… to sow. The lots of peas were greatly affected by the drought, but the most violent were the frosts. They don’t have chauchas” Juan lamented.
He explains that in a few days the wheat harvest will come, with plots that do not augur the expected yields. “In the lots of wheat hopefully we can exceed 1500 kilos”, he expressed. The Matkovichs are country people and are seasoned with the patience to wait for natural cycles. Juan hopes that more rains will arrive in December to advance with the planting of corn and soybeans.
Testimony of the agricultural producer Juan Matkovich in the Argentine debut in Qatar
Juan has to go to Urquiza, in another area of the 300 hectares of the Pergamino district, where they are harvesting a field of barley. The yields are not as expected. Only the costs of the seed are saved. With Matías, his cousin, they have a booth installed there and it will take a couple of days until the harvest is finished. “The last rains brought some relief to the field. Let’s hope they continue once a week in December,” he prays to heaven.
Surprise invades everyone when the game ends. “It’s a game,” says Pedro. And he continues “thinking out loud” that “anything can happen, on the Qatari pitch and on the Argentine pitch, where these days they are still moved by the goals against of an unusually historic drought.