Agribusinesses in Argentina – particularly those dealing in grains operations – have taken a beating as COVID-related infections are on the rise.

The COFCO Timbues grain plant, for instance, has temporarily halted its operations after the first case of coronavirus was registered on Saturday. The cases leaped to 12 by Tuesday.

“We tested 24 people who had been in contact with the initial person, and 11 of those tested positive,” said Allan Virtanen, global communications director at COFCO International, while speaking to a media outlet.

Virtanen reported that the outage at the plant began on Monday and is likely to go on about a week. The Timbues grain plant has over 350 employees, with an output capacity of 6.5 million tonnes of annual grains and oilseeds.

COFCO’s exports from Argentina are very unlikely to be affected by the temporary suspension of Timbues operations. “We will replace the plant’s export program with other COFCO ports and third-party facilities. We expect no significant delays,” said Virtanen, adding, “The plant will remain inactive until we can guarantee employee safety.”

Similarly, U.S-based Bunge revealed its plans to execute similar strategies i.e. test everyone else who had come in contact with the one employee whose reports were positive. But, the firm doesn’t hope to suspend operations and thus have decided to go ahead with soybean deliveries. “Because the regional union has interrupted plant operations, Bunge has redirected soybean deliveries to other locations in Argentina so that we can continue to serve our customers,” announced the firm.

Daniel Succi, an official with one of Argentina’s unions of oilseed workers, has however maintained that the community plans of treading with caution. “Until we are sure we will not go to work,” Succi added, suggesting how the operations at the Bunge plant in Puerto General San Martín has been on hold since Saturday.

While stringent safety measures are being imposed, officials expect a rise in the cases with Argentina’s port facilities.

“We are reinforcing these rules in all grains terminals and processing plants. But we may expect more cases in the coming days,” said Gustavo Idigoras, head of the CIARA-CEC grains exporting and crushing chamber. 

Coronavirus The new program provides support to the National Urban League, UnidosUS and local nonprofits nationwide to help address rates of infection, joblessness, and the dearth of vital resources needed in Black and Latino U.S. communities disproportionately afflicted by COVID-19. Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash