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Country Highlights

Uruguay: The Impact of The Agricultural Industry

Agriculture and food production remains vital to Uruguay’s economy, led by cattle ranching for beef and sheep production for wool and meat. Arable farming of crops like soybeans, rice and maize has also grown in recent years.

Beef accounts for over 15% of Uruguay’s total exports by value, making it the leading national export product. Uruguay has become the 9th largest beef exporter globally, serving key markets like- China, the European Union and other parts of South America.

Launched in 2019, this strategic plan aims to enhance resilience to climate uncertainties by focusing on production systems, ecosystems, livelihoods, and institutional capacities. These include impact evaluation frameworks, cost-benefit analyses, and climate change scenario modeling to support adaptation in agriculture

Rising demand for beef from Asian markets like China and Vietnam over the past decade has driven expansion of cattle herds and beef output. Uruguay’s cattle herd has grown over 20% since 2015 to around 12 million head currently. Further gradual growth is expected over the next five years to meet export demand.

In addition to cattle, production of crops like soybeans, maize and rice has also achieved strong growth at rates above regional averages over the past ten years. This expansion has been boosted by rising global demand for staple foods and animal feed.

Overall— agriculture and food production contributes around 6% directly to Uruguay’s GDP based on output volumes. However— with multiplier effects, it drives a much larger share of downstream economic activity in meat processing, cold storage and logistics services and other allied industries. Agriculture also constitutes an important market for domestic manufacturing of equipment and inputs.

However— the expansion of crops like soybean and rice has required heavy use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and intensive irrigation. This raises environmental concerns around soil degradation, water pollution and ecosystem impacts. Sustainable production practices are being introduced to better manage land, water and chemical use while maintaining competitiveness.

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Featured Reports

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