WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 1999 — With
the Argentine province of Tucuman's important agriculture sector suffering
from dramatic dropoff in sugar production, IFC is investing to promote
agricultural production through lemon orchards and processing. IFC
will lend Euro 11.5 million loan (US$12 million) to San Miguel S.A., Argentina's
leading lemon producer and exporter.
San Miguel will use the investment to expand its processing and packaging
facilities, doubling the plant's grinding and juice extraction capacity,
and to buy irrigation and agricultural equipment. It will rehabilitate
existing orchards and develop about 800 hectares of new trees to secure
long-term supply of lemons. For more than a century, the economy
of the Tucuman region has been based on sugar, but following the sharp
decline of the sugar industry, the lemon production has become a major
source of employment and revenues in the region.
Tei Mante, IFC Director for Agribusiness said the project will improve
San Miguel's competitiveness in the world citrus market, where Argentina
is strong. He said IFC is committed to supporting Argentina's agricultural
sector, which accounts for 60 percent of the country's exports.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private
sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and
improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in
the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial
markets, and provides technical assistance and advise to governments and
businesses. As of March 31, 1999, investments in Argentina represented
9.6 percent of IFC's portfolio, with a value of $1,096 million.