Soy Cultivation in Uruguay

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Soy Cultivation in Uruguay has rapidly displaced the cultivation of other crops, pasture-based cattle ranching, and untouched virgin forests and grasslands. Most of the soy grown is GE soy. Much of it is then exported to China and Europe. In 2008, five of the world's top 10 soybean producers were in South America: Brazil (2), Argentina (3), Paraguay (6), Bolivia (8), and Uruguay (9).[1] For more information, see the article on Soy Cultivation in South America.

Expansion of Soybean Cultivation

Uruguay experienced a rapid increase in soy cultivation in the early 2000s. In Uruguay, soy cultivation is concentrated near the country's west coast. As soy cultivation expanded, so did the total area utilized by agriculture in Uruguay. Simultaneously, farming became more concentrated, with fewer farmers owning more and more land.[2]

In 1999/2000, Uruguay planted very little soy.[3] By 2005/2006, the country planted 309,000 hectares in soy, with 166,000 hectares located on farms larger than 1000 ha (2471 acres) apiece. Altogether, that year, the country produced 632,000 tonnes of soybeans. In 2009/2010, soy production grew to 863,000 hectares, with 632,000 hectares located on farms larger than 1000 ha. That year, production reached 1,293,000 tonnes.

In the four years between the 2005/2006 and the 2009/2010 planting seasons, Uruguay experienced a 179% increase in land dedicated to soybeans and a 105% increase in soybean production. Simultaneously, the percent of soy growing area on farms larger than 1000 ha went from 54% to 73%. A mere six percent of soy producers control 40% of the planted area.[4]

Soybean Exports

All data in this section comes from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's FAOSTAT database.[5] Uruguay really took off as a major exporter of soybeans in 2003. By 2004, it was the world's seventh largest exporter of soybeans. In 2008, soybeans were Uruguay's top export. That year, they exported 92% of the soybeans they grew.

Year: Soybean exports

  • 1980: 8,964 tonnes
  • 1990: 26,568 tonnes
  • 2001: 10,848 tonnes
  • 2002: 61,639 tonnes
  • 2003: 179,465 tonnes
  • 2004: 341,627 tonnes
  • 2005: 477,401 tonnes
  • 2006: 631,595 tonnes
  • 2007: 773,142 tonnes
  • 2008: 810,725 tonnes

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. FAOSTAT, Accessed March 12, 2011.
  2. Pedro Arbeletche and Carolina Carballo, Soja y Su Evolucion (Soy and Its Evolution)
  3. Ministerio del Ganaderia, Agricultura, y Pesca, Republica Oriental del Uruguay (Uruguay's Ministry of Cattle, Agriculture, and Fish), Anuarios Estadisticos (Annual Statistics), 2010.
  4. Pedro Arbeletche and Carolina Carballo, Soja y Su Evolucion (Soy and Its Evolution)
  5. FAOSTAT, Accessed March 12, 2011.

External resources

External articles