Thursday, 19 September 2013 22:54

The colours of Palermo

Back in Buenos Aires today after ten days in Bariloche (Patagonia) and then Mendoza.

Staying in Palermo Soho, a combination of Melbourne's inner city and the gritty inner suburbs of Fitzroy and Brunswick.

Fashion boutiques, restaurants, cafes and street art everywhere. 

Very cool.

Photo: a shop front in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires.

Published in Nathan's Blog
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 22:49

Foxy Andes

Hired a car and drove up into the Andes today, just east of Mendoza, Argentina.

Unfortunately, melting snow closed the mountain road we were hoping to travel on.

But at least the winter sun meant we got to glimpse this fella strolling along the warm road.

Published in Nathan's Blog
Sunday, 15 September 2013 22:11

Snowing in the streets

It's snowing on the mountains and it's snowing in the streets.

Awoke this morning to snow flakes gently landing on the windowsill of our apartment in Bariloche, Patagonia.

Photo: the view from atop Cerro (Mount) Otto, Bariloche, Patagonia.


Published in Nathan's Blog
Sunday, 15 September 2013 21:12

Patagonian style

Viewed from afar, Hotel Llao Llao – one of Argentina’s most famous – is an impressive sight.

Walk inside and this bastion of Patagonian elegance is a picture of old-school charm.

With huge open fireplaces, chandeliers fashioned from deer antlers, deerskin upholstery and views to die for, the place is crawling with well-heeled Argentines.

Dropped in here yesterday for a coffee break and a peek at how the “other half” live. Very impressive.

Published in Nathan's Blog
Sunday, 15 September 2013 20:56

Maté on Sunday

Sunday afternoon in Buenos Aires and the plazas are full of families, friends and lovers all sipping on maté.

A type of caffeine-rich tea, maté is drunk by everyone here. Young, old, yuppie or hipster, chances are they’ll have a thermos with them to brew maté all afternoon.

Served in a purpose-made maté gourd and drunk through a special silver straw, mate is typically shared between friends with everyone drinking from the same gourd and straw.

Photo: two friends share maté in a plaza in Recoleta, Buenos Aires.

Published in Nathan's Blog
Saturday, 07 September 2013 14:31

Rush hour, BA style

Back in Buenos Aires after four days in Rosario for the 2013 congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.

They say in Buenos Aires rush hour lasts all day.

They're not joking.

Published in Nathan's Blog
Thursday, 05 September 2013 20:29

Soybean kings

Despite its political and economic struggles, Argentina remains an agricultural powerhouse. With a population of just 40 million, Argentina produces enough food to feed 450 million people.

While beef has long been the country’s agricultural raison d’être, soybeans are now king. In the past twenty years soybean production has grown from five to 20 million hectares in Argentina, with the country now supplying 43 per cent of the global soybean oil and soybean meal trade.

The country’s efforts to expand the soybean industry have focused on value adding to create competitive advantages over other major soybean producing nations such as Brazil. In the past decade alone Argentina has invested USD2.5 billion in soybean processing facilities creating an annual crushing capacity of 48 million tonnes.

Another competitive advantage the Argentines have is the location of processing facilities close to growing areas. The average distance between farms and soybean processing facilities in Argentina is 500 kilometers, compared to close to 1,500 kilometers in Brazil.

The industry is clustered along the Parana River with major crushing and export facilities located in the city of Rosario, 300 kilometres north west of Buenos Aires.

Argentinean soybean meal is used as a high-protein stockfeed, while the oil is used to produce bio diesel. Most of the bio fuel produced is exported to Europe where environmental policies have created huge demand for non-fossil fuels.

Development of new growing technologies and a massive move to no-till cropping – 70 per cent of the country’s annual soybean production of 50 million tonnes is produced using no-till practices – has seen soybean yields double in the past two decades.

Almost 100 per cent of the Argentinean soybean crop is genetically modified.

Given the industry’s colossal scale and importance to the Argentinean economy, it’s no surprise soybean production has been the key topic throughout the past four days of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists 2013 congress.

Photo: grain silos dot the landscape around Rosario in the Argentinean province of Santa Fe where soybean production is clustered along the Parana River.

Published in Nathan's Blog
Thursday, 05 September 2013 20:23

Millionaire farmer

Although the soybean boom has been a lifesaver for the Argentinean economy, the oil seed’s popularity and profitability has driven land prices through the roof.

Visited a farm near Rosario today, in the province of Santa Fe, where land prices have reached USD20,000 per hectare.

Farmer Adrian Criolani (pictured) grows soybeans, barley, wheat and corn on his 1,000 hectare property, San Antonio.

Given that a farm this size is worth USD20 million it is no wonder up to 60 per cent of Argentina’s annual grain harvest of 100 million tonnes is produced on leased land.  

Published in Nathan's Blog
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 03:19

Portrait of a Gaucho 02

Another gaucho portrait.

Published in Nathan's Blog
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 03:02

Portrait of a Gaucho 01

Compared to their American and Australian brothers, cowboys and stockmen, Argentina's gauchos are in the high fashion stakes.

Immaculately dressed in knee-high leather boots, brightly embroided belts, neck ties and colourful berets, the humble gaucho cuts quite an image.

After our four-course barbeque lunch at the San Pedro orange farm La Campina, conference delegates were treated to a display of horsemanship by a group of local gaucho.

These guys not only look good, but they ride like the wind, as well.

Photo: shot this portrait of young gaucho Tobias after he had been bucked off an unbroken horse and kicked in the ribs.

He seemed rather unfazed by it all.

Published in Nathan's Blog
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