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Argentine 6 : when it comes to agriculture, the important is a woman.


The success of an agricultural project depends on the success of a social project.

In Argentina today, agriculture is a man’s business and above all it is in the hands of business men. The huge properties all belong to private corporations or traders with very little agricultural traditions. The Gauchos and the regular farmers are now ordinary land workers. The owners are depending now on agronomic engineers, the ones who have turned agriculture into a globalised industry worldwide.

This 100 000acres estancia produces calves which are bound to be finished in feed-lots. A few weeks after birth, more than 70% of Argentina’s calves are sent in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and will never see a bit grass anymore. They are fed on trangenic soja and GMO corn, resulting from the bio ethanol production.

Within 15 years, the Argentine meat, reknowned as the best in the world, has totally disapeared. It became a biproduct of transgenic agriculture, injected with chemicals. How sad. After SARS, the swine influenza, what else is cooking?

While experiencing this disaster what can do the proud Argentine Gauchos ? Why the engineers are spreading glyfosate on the rich pastures? Why are there eradicating all the rich biodiversity needed by the calves to put up there immune defenses?

The Gauchos became employees at the mercy of the economical conditions of the owner. There one and only motivation would stay the entire day long in the immensity of the Pampa. But in reality the Gaucho has very little motivation left for his job. Finally, the Gaucho “blues” described by Jorge luis Borges, was probably their golden age…

Here, in the estancia where we work, the Gauchos, which are named by the engineers “peones”, simple farm workers are paid twice the salary of anyone else in Argentina.  The new owner insists on his social action towards his men for the sake and future of his estancia. But here, 5 hours of bus from the nearest city, there is nothing to spend your money on. Here money is not all.

There are 30 families, 30 maried men, 30 women and 3 to 6 children each. They live without any life project, not any single community project. It is a man’s world, “machos” we would say in Spanish, which is not pejorative here. Machos who do their task with not a word to say about it. They observe agricultural ways on which they dont always agree on. It does not belong to them so… Their houses have just been renewed free. The slight problem of decoration… to a missing electric bulb they turn to the owner to complain. To a foreigner they would rather seem childish than proud men. An estancia today rather looks like a classic expression of an old time patriarcal revival than a modern enterprise.

Where can we end up like this… right in the wall?  History is full of similar examples.

And therefore we come :  Simulteanously with the agriculture advising we suggest to work on 3 different social field in order to dynamise the people on the estancia, gain in creativity and spirit of development :

  • Their participation and understanding in the agriculture strategies : so that the Gauchos can give their opinion, understand more about their future and share their experience.
  • To give a place, a bigger role to the women : by creating a company in which they can participate and own shares together with the estancia. A company in which each one can start his own project, once approved by the community. It will organise microcredit, shelter creation, production and distribution of all the products they could make from what is available in the estancia.
  • Prepare the future of the children, set sustainable basis for the employment in the estancia with a steady development.

For the Gauchos, it is essential to take part in the future of the estancia. To belong is the most important concept. It is therefore important to organise regular fiestas, with music and the traditional Argentine Asados, which will be the excuse to discuss of the agriculture destiny of the estancia in order to benefit from their suggestions, knowledge and experience on a territory they cross everyday.

But the most important concerns the women. Today it is as if they do not exist at all. But the future of the estancia depends on the rolewe are giving them. They need to take the place they diserve through the creation of a company to create, produce and distribute products derived from the agriculture, as well as from the nature in the estancia. It will be a way to develop micro credits to finance ideas and support small initiatives, pay for training and education in order to make better products and develop the creativity of the inhabitants of this under exploited place .

The success of this company will radiate on the fame of the estancia by the quality and inventivness of its products as for being a first for such an endeavour in Argentina.

This share holder company can start by producing simple products destined to the Argentine market, which need very small investment :

- Specialities made from wild products :

  • edelflower and fruits jams, preserved wild peaches, preserved Berberis…
  • Wild honey, and honey combs.
  • Wild honey candles

- Specialties made from the agriculture :

  • Blackberry jam, cranberry jams,
  • cranberry juices
  • Organic “dulce de leche” , the Argentine mythical milk jam (the vet from Buenos Aires eats entire jars when he comes here, while saying it is the best in the world).

- Dry meat specialities :

  • “Grisons meat” made from the sirloin.
  • Cecina, the dry spanish entrecote.
  • Pastrami, Kosher and Halal dry entrecote entrecote with garlic and chile.

All these meat specialities are strangly missing in the Argentine menu. They love dried ham, they love beef, why not creating an Argentine version with the best organic beef ever?

- Develop high value added products :

  • Andine specialties : Andine native potatoe, quinoa, maca …
  • Ornemental plants :special  begonias, jasmin of Juyjuy,…
  • Fresh mushrooms for the Asiatic communities in Argentina and Brasil : ganoderma sp., shitake, etc.


Cheese specialities :

  • The quesadilla: an Argentine mozzarella which goes with the dulce de leche.
  • A cow cheese…

But here rises the importance of creating a company : to train people to get better know hows.

A small anecdote :

When the Paris SIAL, the most important World Food Fare asked the Foodingues associated with the company NovaleNext, to display the food world trends on a 350 sqm stand, one of our dream was to show the best Camembert ever…

When General de Gaulle arrived at the Elysée Palace, he banned all cheese from the Presidential table. Too many chees in France, it delays too much the meals. All? No. Only a Camembert, the Royal Montgomery, was authorized. The funny thing was that it was the same cheese that at the table of the Windsor’s, the Royal family at Buckingham Palace. De Gaulle did not apreciate them at all.

So we contact Mr Durand at Camembert who has retired since 1982, to make the cheese again… vacheveauxjpg1“My dear man, when I was making my cheese, my cows were producing 3000 litres of milk per year; now they are producing ten times more… the grass is still the same… Sorry such a cheese is impossible to make again.”

The estanciahas 200 Pardo Suisse cows, very rare breed. They have not been exploited for ages… it is a true treasure considering the exceptional biodiversity of pasture they live on.

The company will have to train in the production of Parmegiano cheese to satisfy the local taste. This will be possible little by little thanks to the profit made which will finance cheese courses.

- Specialties from the wall nuts (8000 wallnut trees are being planted this year) :

  • wallnut oil;
  • sweet wall nut specialties
  • wall nut cakes with the remains of the press for oil…

Not only food, the women can produce small lines of organic cosmetics with the products of the estancia. This line can be developped in association with the biology lab of Tucuman University in which the women interested could take simple courses.

- Simple organic cosmetics line :

  • soap based on micro algaes oil;
  • comsetic cream with algae oil
  • food supplement high in chlorophile and mineral based on algaes
  • essential oils : vervena, sage, lantana, etc.

These women will benefit from design courses by les Foodingues, packaging wise as well as formulas and recepies.

This endeavour will allow them to develop their environment, build a cinema, a concert hall,… activities they would like to have… bring dynamic to their life and to the estancia with their entire participation.

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