Quantcast
Latest Stories

South American ‘soybean king’ says region feeds world


Businessman Gustavo Grobocopatel, known as the Argentine ‘Soy King’, speaks during a interview with AFP in Buenos Aires on August 29, 2013. AFP FILE PHOTO

BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s Gustavo Grobocopatel, known as the “soybean king,” is head of one of the most powerful agroindustrial groups in South America, and quickly touts soy’s power in feeding people everywhere.

“In South America we work to feed the world,” Grobocopatel, 51, said during an interview with AFP.

“To criticize soy is to criticize the poor who have begun to eat,” he said.

But despite a penchant for agribusiness, the leader of the Los Grobo empire does not own land and says music is his true passion.

It is this untraditional outlook that has allowed the soy impresario to succeed.

Los Grobo, the largest producer of wheat in Latin America, deals not only in soy, grains and oilseeds, but also provides agri-input and technical assistance to farmers.

“We are farmers without land, because we rent. We have no work, because we outsource. And we have no capital because we lend money. All we have is management skills and knowledge,” Grobocopatel said with a smile.

“I am a Marxist, you might say.”

Argentina, the leading exporter of soybean oil “is able to feed 400 million people, as a country of 40 million people,” said Grobocopatel, whose ancestors came to the country from Russia in 1910.

Sitting in the office of one of his ventures, the agronomist drank mate, a typical caffeinated beverage from South America’s River Plate region, made from yerba mate leaves and sipped through a distinctive silver straw.

A perfect picture of the typical Argentine producer, with mate in hand, Grobocopatel’s global vision and national and regional strategy sets him apart from his colleagues in the industry.

His empire includes businesses in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil – the countries that compete with the US as the world’s largest soybean producers.

Soy represents 25 percent of Argentina’s exports, totaling $81.2 billion in 2012.

“Without soy, the country would not have left” the deep economic crisis of 2001, Grobocopatel said.

Grobocopatel considers the soy boom “unstoppable, because it leads to better food consumption among poorer classes in the Asia Pacific and some African and Latin American countries where people are moving away from grains and basic foods and towards protein.”

“Before, in Asia, many people lived with a cup of rice a day but now can eat chicken and can eat pork,” he said.

Grobocopatel proudly boasts the region has become a “global technology leader in agriculture,” but said “much more research and development is needed in biotechnology, environmental agriculture and the use of robotics.”

He also defends direct seeding, a planting method that experts say conserves soil and is used on 91 percent of agricultural land in Argentina.

“Argentina is a country that has extremely widespread use of direct seeding, a great technological development that for the first time in 5,000 years will allow us to say that we’re giving our children better soil than our parents gave us. It’s a paradigm shift in the way we do agriculture,” he said.

Despite his enthusiasm, Grobocopatel says his true passion is not agriculture or technological innovation, but his professional folk music ensemble Cruz del Sur.

“I’m a musician, and it’s not a hobby, it’s my job. My hobby is the company,” said Grobocopatel, who studied singing for 30 years. “It’s my main thing.”


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Agriculture , Argentina , Gustavo Grobocopatel , Los Grobo , soy , soybean , world




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • Camilla’s brother dies of NYC head injury
  • Nepal officials go to Everest to try to end crisis
  • Escudero ready to defend self should name appear in Napoles’ list
  • Obama calls for peaceful end to island dispute
  • Russia not abiding by agreement on Ukraine—Obama
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Entertainment

  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement