Transport in agriculture: challenges that go beyond fuel

The logistics of the field is experiencing a critical situation that is news nationwide. The worst moment was a little over a month ago, at the end of June, when 23 districts registered shortage problems and the exception was Tierra del Fuego, according to a survey prepared by the Argentine Federation of Freight Transport Business Entities (FADEEAC). Although this situation is not at all positive, it can serve to make public something that is often in the shadows: the transport of agriculture is essential for Argentina.

When talking about producers and exporters, intermediate processes are often not taken into account; as if the harvest automatically moved to the ports. With a limited rail system, guaranteeing the correct transport by route should be a national cause. From the macro, with basic issues such as fuel availability, to other more long-term ones, such as the state of the roads, the controls of the documentation or the connectivity in the routes, to mention just a few fundamental issues.

The reaction of the field to Massa’s first speech

In economics, a number of different factors make the cost per each truck that transports grain can be up to 73% more expensive than in Brazil and 53% than in the United States. To make the comparison, the Rosario Stock Exchange simulated trips of approximately 320 kilometers to ports in the three countries. The cost in dollars per kilometer in Argentina was 0.092; in Brazil, 0.053 and in the United States, 0.060.

Three possible solutions for a complex problem

In that sense, greater synergy could lower costs. For example, by unifying the harvest of several producers in the same areaby lifting more cargo on the way to the destination or even that the trucks on the return leg are also loaded.

Reducing idle capacity will be an economic saving and also environmental. In a context in which Argentina already consumes more natural resources in six months than it can produce in a year -according to a report by the Global Footprint Network consultancy-, the commitment of the agricultural logistics sector with the care of our planet is a challenge to face.

The field also bets on digital transformation

Technology is a vital tool, which can also work to resolve other issues. For example, the lack of data. When seeking to make processes more efficient, it is essential to know the map of the transfers, the flows, the most repeated routes, the availability of trucks, to mention just a few examples. What if there was an open database for everyone?

With more than five thousand kilometers from end to end, producers throughout the country and trucks of various characteristics, the common aspect that all these challenges have is the need to have a global vision, that addresses different interests and that puts the logistics of agriculture in the priority place it deserves. In a country where 7 out of every 10 dollars that come in come from agribusiness, according to the FADA Foundation, it is always a good time to improve the production chain.

The situation can be a door to think of superior proposals and begin to face the next challenges.

“By Juan José Debuchy, agronomist and CEO of Humber.

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