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High prices lift Argentina's March grains exports revenue to 18-year high

BUENOS AIRES, April 1 (Reuters) - Argentina brought in $2.77 billion from agricultural exports in March, the CIARA-CEC chamber of export companies said on Thursday, as high grains prices pushed revenue from international shipments to an 18-year high.

The chamber represents companies accounting for 40% of Argentina’s total exports. The sector is Argentina’s biggest source of much needed export dollars as the government tries to stabilize its economy as it struggles to exit a three-year recession that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sector brought in $6.72 billion in the first quarter, CIARA-CEC said in a statement. March revenue marked a 53.22% increase over February, it said.

The South American grains powerhouse is the world’s No. 3 corn exporter and top supplier of soymeal livestock feed, used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

Soy and corn harvesting starts in earnest this month. Dry weather is expected to help farmers bring in their crops, although high temperatures and scant rainfall from mid 2020 through February reduced yields and cut into harvest forecasts.

Earlier this month the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange cut its 2020/21 soy crop forecast to 44 million tonnes from a previously projected 46 million tonnes. And the Rosario exchange chopped its soy harvest estimate to 45 million tonnes from a previous 49 million tonnes, citing the prolonged 20202 dry spell.

Some 7.9% of this season’s corn has been brought in so far, while recent rain storms have held back soy harvesting to about 1% of planted area, the exchange said in a report on Wednesday.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein Editing by Marguerita Choy

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