A total of 100 Paraguayan barges carrying 120,000 tonnes of soyabeans are expected to complete shipments to ports in Argentina and Uruguay by 10 September due to improved water levels on the Paraná River, the head of Paraguay’s maritime and shipping chamber CAFyM told AgriCensus.

Following these shipments, approximately 500,000 tonnes of beans would still be trapped in ports and storage facilities across the country, CAFyM head Juan Carlos Munoz said.

The government of Paraguay was studying the possibility of releasing more water from the Itaipu dam in order to improve the levels of the Paraná River, he added.

“However, this is not decided yet. We are waiting to see the natural evolution of the river’s influx to request this,” Munoz said.

Paraguayan exporters usually shipped nearly 30% of total soyabean exports via this section of the Paraná River, which had been affected by low water levels since April. Barges are used to ship soyabeans to ports in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Soyabeans that could not be shipped by barges would have to be transported to ports via lorries, resulting in higher logistics costs for producers, AgriCensus said.

Paraguay produced 10.6M tonnes of soyabeans in the 2019/20 cycle, up 34% on the previous year, according to national production association UGP.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) expected soyabean production in Paraguay to reach 10.25M tonnes in the 2020/21 season, with soyabean exports in 2019/20 and 2020/21 forecast to reach 5.9M tonnes and 6.3M tonnes respectively.

Paraguay had exported a total of 4.76M tonnes of soyabeans between January and July, a 15.6% increase on the same period of 2019, according to the latest data from the country’s central bank.

Exports to Argentina, Paraguay’s largest soyabean importer, had reached 3.76M tonnes in the period, a 28.7% year-on-year increase, AgriCensus said.