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jail kinds — binder-reapers, traction-engines, winnowing and
ithrashing machines, all of the best construction and the most
I recent model — are familiar to the Argentine farmer, who
1 makes constant use of them.

I The owners of the great " estancias " make all necessary
sacrifices in order to work their estates in the latest and
most perfect manner. The machinery comes from the
United States, and facilitates all the operations of la grande
culture. Two or three years ago, for example, saw the


advent of a new machine, simple and of moderate price,
which replaced the reaper and thrasher, by performing both
operations at once as it moved. It reaps the ears of corn,
winnows them, grades the grain, and pours it into sacks ;
leaving the straw, it is true, but the value of straw in the
Argentine is negligible. All these operations are performed
as the machine progresses ; four horses are enough to draw
it. With this new machine corn that is standing in the
morning is reaped during the day, and by the evening is
ready for despatch to the port of embarkation.

To give some idea of the extent to which agricultural
machinery is used in the Argentine, we may mention that
in the period 1890-1904 there were imported from abroad,
mostly from the United States, 459,006 ploughs, officially
valued for customs purposes at £1,331,409 ; 22,783 winnowers,
valued at £277,976; 98,470 reapers, valued at £2,041,982;
37,824 drills, or sowers, valued at £176,268; and 4770
thrashing-machines, valued at £1,250,184. From 1898 to
1904 13,725 maize buskers were imported, valued at £340,479.

To complete these data we append a table, giving tht
number of agricultural machines imported in the course o]
the years 1905, 1906, 1907 and 1908:






.. 66,404




Winnowers or buskers






.. 14,492




Drills or sowers

.. 7,911




Harvesters ...










We must also mention that there has been a grea
development of factories in the Argentine, which turn oi]
agricultural machinery and implements ; some of these hav
been established with large amounts of capital, and posses
an equipment fully equal to that of the best equippe
establishments of Europe.

The Agricultural Yield.

Having now considered the agricultural progress achievi
in the Argentine, the areas under seed at different perioc
the prevailing crops, and the regions in which agriculture 1
more especially established, we must now study the results :


agriculture ; that is to say, its yield, and shall attempt to
forecast the future reserved for the country.

As we have already stated, there are no complete statistics
available, such as there are in the United States and in other
countries, which give in detail the cost of working farms of
various sizes, and the prices at whicli the latter sell their
produce ; and it is only from such details that we can
calculate the net profit of each acre. But, despite this
lack, we can probably find the data we require by resorting
to the opinion of those competent in such matters, either
because they are themselves practising farmers, or be-
cause they have set themselves the same problem as that we
are facing.

In the good lands of the Provinces of Cdrdoba and Buenos
Ayres, and in the Pampa Centrale, the hectare may yield the
settler 50 piastres (in notes), or £4, 8s. ; in other words,
£1, 15s. 7|d. per acre; provided there is no hail, and if he
escapes the other agricultural plagues. Some estates this
year have produced as much as 2000 kilos of wheat per
hectare, or 29 bushels per acre ; yielding, at |6 per ton (the
Argentine ton of 2205 lb.) a yield of 120 piastres* (paper)
per hectare, or £4, 5s. G^d. per acre. Estimating the expenses
at 25 to 33 per cent., there remains a profit, let us say, of £3,
from which we must still deduct some 10s. for rent, so that
the labourer draws a final profit of 70 piastre notes per hectare,
or £2, 10s.

In one particular establishment, not far from the station
of Labenlaye, on the Buenos Ayres Pacific line, the yield of
a family of metayers, who cultivate 125 to 150 acres, and
pay a quarter of the crop to the proprietor, and also work on
the cattle-ranch on days when there is no work in the fields,
make an annual profit of £88 a year. This is equivalent of
a profit of from lOs. 4d. to 14s. 4d. per acre, earned by
cultivating the soil as metayers or tenants in kind, retaining
75 per cent, of the crop ; but it must be remembered that this
is absolutely a net profit : all the labourers' expenses, the cost
of nourishment, clothing, and other current expenses, are all
debited first ; so that the £88 may be saved or spent or invested.

* The piastre note is approximately worth 2 2 francs, or 19 2 pence —
Is. 7ld.


But an argument more eloquent than all the arithmetical
demonstrations which we might draw from particular cases
is the well-known fact that every year a large number of
labourers become the proprietors of the holdings they
cultivate, or acquire other holdings in the neighbourhood.
It is by no means an exceptional thing for those who
cultivate a tract of land to draw from it in a single year a
sufficient sum of money to acquire it for themselves, while
reserving the expenses of sowing and other work to be dune
before the next harvest.

To support this statement, here are a few exacter details
as to the capital required to reclaim a holding and its
approximate yield.

According to calculations furnished by a man of great ex-
perience in matters of colonisation, the capital required by a
family of four or five persons cultivating 250 acres of wheat,
including the expense of installation in the first year, may
be estimated as follows : —

£ 8. D.

Two Ploughs, sulky type

21 2

Two Harrows, threefold ...

7 18

One Roller

4 8

One Husker or winnowing machine

39 12

Twenty Oxen


Two Horses

8 16

Two Carts

35 4

Harness, chains, implements, etc.

8 16

House, corral, well, fencing

... 105 12

;^31!) 8


The family or the colonist who does not possess such capital
will find rich proprietors or colonists who will furnish him
with implements, draught animals, and seed corn, as well as
the necessaries of life. The harvest over, the seed corn is
reserved for the next sowing ; the expenses of the harvest
are deducted, and the net profit is halved, one half going
to the proprietor, and one to the colonist. It is thus that
the majority of immigrants begin to earn the capital which
enables them to become proprietors.

For bachelor immigrants there is another method, which
gives excellent results: they place themselves with colonists
who possess some capital as " interested servants," or profit-
sharing labourers, lending their services from the ploughing


to the harvest of wheat and linseed. They receive for their
services fuod, board, and 6 or 7 per cent, of the gross profit of
100 hectares. They put the sums received during three or
four years out at interest, and have then sufficient money to
buy the necessary implements and to become tenant farmers.
Three or four years later they buy land on the instalment
system, and finally become large land-owners ; one may count
by the hundred those who have followed this course, have
become the proprietors of wide tracts of land, and have
to-day made large fortunes.

As soon as he is a land-owner the colonist or farmer has
already an almost certain future before him, as the net
profits he obtains each year accumulate in geometrical
progression, unless some fatality pursues him : a thing that
is of sufficiently rare occurrence. To gain some idea of his
net profits, we turn to the following details, which are
drawn from a competent source :

Approximate Estimate of the Expenses and the Yield of

247 acres of land soivn with Wheat.

Preparing the soil. — Two plonghings and a raking,

at 2s. 3^d. per acre

Sowing, drilling and harrowing, at ;3'38d. per acre
Seed. — 238 bushels of seed corn, at £8, 16s. per ton ...
Harvest. — Reaping and stacking; at 4s.2"68d. per acre
Thrashing. — 4400 bushels (120 tons) of grain, at

17s. 6d. per ton

Sact.'!.— 1500, at 5-024d. each

Transport. — To granary, port or station, 120 tons

at 8s. 8d. per ton

Rent. — 247 acres, at Ss. 6-6d. per acre (approx.) ...
General expenses. — Repairs, tools, dilapidations,

wages, hire of machinery, etc.


Sale of 120 tons (4400 bushels) of wheat, at £(i, 3s.

2id. per ton (3s. 4 •28d, per bushel) *

Expenses of growth and preparation ...

Settler's net profit

In short, a profit of about one pound per acre.

* At the present price (22 francs per 100 kilos, or about £8, IGs. per ton
the sale would produce £1050, a net profit of £.571. This is unusuiil.

£ S.


28 3


3 10


.-.7 4

52 IG

105 12

26 8

52 16

105 12

52 16

£484 17


£ s.


731> 4

484 17


£254 7



The above figures relate to the property known as " La
Vizcaina," in the Department of Bolivar; it consists of
123,800 acres of agricultural land, or 183 square miles, and
is the largest agricultural farm in the Republic belonging
to a single owner or held by a single tenant. It must be
mentioned that, on the whole, the land is high ; it has never
been invaded by locusts ; the depth of the mould or upper
soil is considerable, and the property has two railway
stations built upon it and a third about 2| miles distant,
which facilitate the despatch of the harvests.

The above figures do not give a precise idea of the farmer's
situation, since agricultural land is let for four years, and in
four years, six harvests may be obtained (three of wheat and
three of maize), which sensibly diminishes the cost of working
and increases the profits in proportion.

We may use the same table as relating to linseed,
substituting £7, 18s. 6d. per ton, or thereabouts, for the sow-
ing, and £1, Is. per ton for thrashing. In this district linseed-
farming is accompanied by certain risks, on account of the
scanty rain and the late frosts ; sometimes the harvest is j
7, 8, or 10 quintals (metric) per hectare, but it is usually onlyi
3 or 4.*

In order that these figures representing the farmer's profit
shall give a true idea of the reality, it must be remembered
that besides the wheat crop he can also obtain another and
equally profitable crop of maize in the same year, and he
may also increase his profits by fattening pigs and raising
game and other products which command a ready sale ini
the neighbouring towns. '

These examples must not of course be taken as represent-
ing a general law ; the net income of course depends upon
the cost of production and the yield of each harvest, andj
these two factors may vary infinitely, where the crops undei
consideration are as large as those raised in the Argentine
But what we may affirm is that, besides a certain number oi
farms lying fallow, there are hundreds of thousands of acres

*In normal years, if the fields have been well worked, one may count oi
an average of 30 bushels of wheat per 2i acres, or 14 per acre ; ?S bushels o
maize per acre, and 12 '5 bushels of linseed per acre. On virgin land th
results are often of great interest ; for it is not uncommon to obtain over 2
bushels of wheat per acre fl ba8hel = 60 lbs.).


of virgin soil, purchasable at a low price, on which it is
enough to cast the seed, after a superficial cultivation, in
order to obtain a splendid harvest. In conditions as favour-
able as these, and using machinery which enables the farmer
to cultivate enormous surfaces with little labour, there are
always serious probabilities of success for the agriculturalist.
This it is that explains the great increase of cultivated lands
during the last few years, whether virgin lands divided and
sold by the owner, or lands leased to tenants who pay in
kind or give up a percentage of the crops.

In a country whose soil gives such wonderfully abundant
yields, great fortunes, and fortunes rapidly made, are
common. The Argentine, like the United States, has her
legendary type of immigrant, who has progressed in a very
short time from extreme poverty to great riches, by apply-
ing his energy and initiative to agriculture or stock-raising.

Here are two of the most notable and best-known,

A few years ago there died in the Argentine one of the
greatest landed proprietors ; a man named Santamarina,
whose life-history is worth relating.

Son of a small farmer of Galicia, Santamarina decided,
when about twenty years of age, to seek his fortune in
America. His means not permitting him to meet the
expenses of the voyage, he resorted to the classical pro-
cedure ; he shipped as a stowaway on a vessel about to leave
Vigo on a voyage, to Buenos Ayres.

Discovered on the voyage, the captain had compassion on
him, kept him on the vessel and landed him, fifty years ago,
in the capital of the Argentine ; without any resources, and
.sustained only by the hope of gaining a livelihood more
easily than in Spain.

Santamarina immediately made his way towards the great
plaza, where the produce of the country was at that time sold ;
and there, hoping to secure a job, he spoke to a man who
was C(mducting a wagon, and whose business it was to
bring wool from the country into the Buenos Ayres market.

This man, seeing him strong and willing, offered to share
with him his work as wagoner ; but he first inquired of


Santatnarina whether he possessed a knife, as at that time
in the Argentine it was the necessary instrument of defence,
and at need, of attack, and was also employed in all the
usages of the nomad life.

Santamarina had no knife ; but he had a piastre, which
the captain had given him before he left the ship, and
with this piastre he bought a knife, which served in this
partnership as his only capital.

Having led the common wagon for some time,
Santamarina had saved enough to buy a better one for
his own ; then, chance aiding him, he purchased a few sheep
whose wool he sold ; and finally, by dint of work, he
succeeded in saving sufficient capital to buy a little land
and start sheep-raising on his own account. This was the
beginning of his success ; little by little Santamarina bought
more sheep and more land, and became in the end one of the
greater landed proprietors of the Argentine. He died in
1904, leaving a large fortune and a name justly honoured
throughout the country.

To-day a visitor to his magnificent "estancia" of Tandil may
still see, under a glass shade, the knife and a model of the
wagon which were the first instruments of his fortune.

The second story is more commonplace, but no less true.
Twelve years ago two Neapolitan immigrants came to settle at
Rosario. To gain a living, and no doubt in memory of their
former trade, they founded in partnership a boliche ; that is,
a bar for the sale of drinks. When a certain time had
elapsed, their business being far from prosperous, they^
decided that one or the other of the two was one too many,
and so determined to separate. But which of the two should
retain the boliche ? They drew lots to decide the point; and
he whom chance favoured retained the business alone,
while the other went in search of his fortune elsewhere.

The latter, far from allowing himself to be discouraged,
made for Rosario harbour, in search of a new trade : he
assumed that of a dock-labourer or lighterman. This was
at the time when the growing of maize was beginning, in
the Province of Santa E'e, to give satisfactory results. Our
hero, having spent some time in carrying sacks of grain
upon his back from the quays to the vessels about to sail,

conceived the idea of buying, with his savings, a sack of
maize, and to soil it retail, in the country, for the purposes of
seed. This first venture having succeeded, he continued his
operations with a larger number of sacks; then, finally,
he abandoned the trade of porter in order to enlarge
his new business, which from that time increased by
thousands of sacks, and soon became a great export

Thanks to the development of the culture of maize in
this region, he has become one of the greatest merchants
and speculators in this product, and enjoys to-day a fortune
of many millions, while his companion, less happy in his
afiairs, still keeps the little drink-shop in Rosario.



The world's wheat-harvest — Comparison between the statistics of consumption
— The conditions of production in Russia and in the Argentine — Comparison
with the United States, India and Canada — The prospects of the Argentine
export trade in wheat.

HAVING described the progress realised by the Argentine
Republic in the course of the last few years, it will be
not without interest to inquire what are the resources of those
nations which are, or may be, the competitors of the Argentine
in the world-market and in the production and consumption
of wheat.

Here, according to the most reliable sources, are the
figures relating to the average yield of wheat in the whole
world during the last sixteen years : —

Period Year Year

1894-1903. 1904. 1907.

Europe (bushels of 60 lbs.) ... 1,468,000,000 1,656,000,000 1,652,000,000

America „ ... 684,000,000 756,000,000 889,000,000

Asia and Australia „ ... 295,000,000 396,000,000 458,000,000

Africa „ ... 43,000,000 57,600,000 54,800,000

Totals (approx.) ... 2,490,000,000 2,865,600,000 3,050,000,000

We see that the European production of wheat represents
nearly 59 per cent, of the world's production, for a population
which, according to the calculations of M. Levasseur, consists of
about 411 millions of inhabitants. If we reduce this figure
by one-fourth, thus eliminating infants and the aged, we find
that this population disposes of only 272'8 lb. of wheat per
head, or 521*2 lb. less than the " type " or standard ration of
793'8 lb. per annum, recommended by the Bureau of Experi-
mental Stations of the Ministry of Agriculture of the United
States, after long and patient research.

In pursuing this inquiry into the distribution of wheat-
production among all the countries of the world, we shall be
able to judge of the rank occupied by the Argentine Republic,
and by so doing to rectify an error which is frequently com-



mitted, the error of confounding exportation and importation,
which gives this country a very different place to that wliich
is its right.

Here are the figures showing how the production of wheat
is distributed : —

j Country.




; J^nited States (bushols of GO lbs. ) .

.. 576,000,000



_Pussi.a ,,

. 360,000,000



J^raneo ,,

. 316,000,000



_^ustro-Hungary ,,

. 180.000,000



Argentine Republic ,,

. 76,000,000




. 119,000,000



Spain ,,

. 93,600,000



Germany ,,

. 116,000,000



Canada ,,

. 63,000,000



Roumania ,,

. 57,600,000



England „

. 54,000,000



Bulgaria ,,



Asiatic Countries „



Australia ,,



i Other European Countries ,,



African Countries „



Other American Countries „



Totals (approx.) ... 2,890,000,000 3,030,000,000

This table shows that in 1907 the Argentine occupied the
fifth place as a wheat-growing country.

If we compare this production of wheat with the
minimum ration of 793"8 lb,* which is considered indispens-
able to human nutrition, we see that apart from European
Russia, with its 116 million inhabitants, there is left for the
remaining 300 millions of Europeans, less a quarter, as we
have explained above— that is, for a population of 225 millions
I— about 1,200,000,000 bushels of wheat. This quantity
represents an average of 151"5 lb. per head per annum, or
a deficiency of 249'7 lb. per head.

The population of Germany, estimated at 59 millions, has
only 147'4 lb. of wheat per head, making a deficiency of 644'6
lb. per inhabitant.

* There seems something improbable about this figure. For one thing, very
few people could eat over 2 lb. of wheat — representing over 3 lb. of bread — per
diem ; and white bread forms no important part of the diet of most populations.
Prob.-ibly the figures represent the amount of bread necessary to a hard-

. .working labourer, whose dietary consists chiefly of bread — a diet only common

I to the south of England. — [Trans.]



The United Kingdom furnishes its 42,500 inhabitants
with only 50"6 lb. of bread per annum, leaving a deticiency
of 741 4 lb. per head.

Thus Europe, which, without Russia, produces more wheat
than the rest of the world, does not produce enough for her
own consumption, low as it is. It is therefore necessary to
seek out these wheat-producing countries which are in a
position to make up this deficiency. Now at the present
time there are very few such countries ; they are Russia, the'
United States, the Argentine Republic, Canada, and India
and among these it is the Argentine for which the most
important place seems to have been reserved.

Russia has hitherto been one of the great providers <A
wheat to Europe ; but it would seem that this position if
not one that she can retain. Russia is far from having
attained the degree of agricultural evolution which thi!
Argentine has achieved ; it is true that she exports 80 per cent)
of her wheat harvest, but then the Russian peasant eats onhi
rye bread. Of the 326 millions of acres of cultivated land ii!
Russia, 30 millions only are devoted to wheat, or rather lesj
than double the area used for the same cereal in France, o
just double the wheat-area of the last Argentine harvest.

In the wheat-belt of Tchernoziora, the black earth is all i,
cultivation, and its extent cannot be further increased. FertilU
though this soil may be, and although its depth is from 12 to 4;
inches, the results amount to no more than four or live grains (
wheat for each grain sown. The last harvest gave about 5'a
bushels per acre, while the average in France is 20 bushels. \

These results are due chiefly to the poverty and ignorand
of the Russian peasant; it often happens that his wheat crc
no longer belongs to him, having been sequestrated by tl
tax-gatherer in payment of unpaid taxes. On the other hani
the Russian peasant cannot procure agricultural machiner
the price of which is increased by exaggerated tariffs.* I;;

* More : when it is provided for him he frequently will not use it ; or it und '■
goes a series of remarkable accidents, so that the harvest has to be gatheii
by hand. This is more especially the case where he is reaping anothc)
harvest, when his object is to ensure the employment of more hands. H<,J
unable to understand that machinery means wealth and development. It is o if
fair to say that it seldom does in Russia, as he cannot easily get more lanc;f
his own, and his master's estate is often hemmed in by others. — [Trans.]


cannot even obtain draught animals, his wretched resources
not allowing him to procure them.

If to these factors we add the progressive exhaustion of
the soil, we see that the production of Russian wheat for
export is very near its limit ; the more so as the home
consumption of wheat tends to increase with the economic
development of the country. We can hardly wish otherwise
than that these peasant farmers, habituated to a life of poverty,
should themselves consume some of the wheat they produce,

Online LibraryAlberto B MartínezThe Argentine in the twentieth century [microform] → online text (page 13 of 33)