Saturday, May 19, 2018

Day 12--Arcor and Goodbye

We started our morning early by saying goodbye to our host families, grandmas, and sisters.  From our experiences, one of the best parts of the trip was having the opportunity to stay in a home with Argentines for a week and experience their culture on a deeper level.  Saying goodbye was tough, but we are incredibly thankful for the experience.

Once we got on the road, we headed to the Arcor factory. Arcor is Argentina's leading food supplier, and the number one manufacturer of candy worldwide.  The company began in Cordoba in 1951 as a candy factory, and has since grown to have 49 plants in Latin and South America, and produces lines of products that include food, agricultural products, a confectionery, food packaging, and chocolates. Arcor also produces energy, and since last year, they acquired 14,000 hectares of forest and a dairy. As a result, they have become very vertically integrated, from producing their own dairy products, to manufacturing their own packaging for their goods.  Arcor still remains a family owned company, while employing 20,000 employees.

At the San Pedra complex, we were able to see their production lines of dry corn milling, alcohol distilling, vegetable oil extraction, and extruded products.  The dry corn milling line has the capacity to process 340 tons per day and produce products such as corm meal, flaking grits, flour, and bran.  We were able to see how the components of the corn kernel were separated to produce a variety of products. The alcohol distilling line has the capacity to product 84,000 liters per day.  We also saw the extruded products line, which produces 44 tonnes of crude products, 24 tonnes of refined products, and 100 tonnes of pelleted products per day.  This line creates products such as corn pellets, gum, crude oil, soap-stock, and refined corn-oil.  Finally, we saw the extruded products line with a capacity of 5 tonnes per day.  The products include things like crisp toppings and rice thin crackers.

After lunch at Arcor, we loaded up the van for the last time and headed to the airport.  These last two weeks have been extremely educational, and the experience we've had is invaluable.  Hope to see you again soon, Argentina.

--Sara and Ryan

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Day 11 - Speciality Crops

Today was yet another fun and adventurous day in the Santa Fe Province. We went to
two different locations about an hour south of Rosario: Argo Uranga and the AFA (Agricultores
Federados Argentinos).

Bailey and Celeste (the writers) with our popcorn!

Argo Uranga was a 12,000-hectare family farm that was established all the way back in
1857. Approximately 65% of the operation belongs to the Uranga family, and the rest is
managed by a corporation. The location of the estate was absolutely beautiful; they have
buildings and living quarters there that are still standing after 160 years. They produce typical
crops such as corn, soybeans, barley, wheat, etc., but they also are experts in growing specialty
crops like popcorn. We got the opportunity to see the actual popcorn crop in the field along with
their facility where they store, dry, and package popcorn, which was very fascinating to see. It
was interesting to learn that they export all of their popcorn to over 50 countries worldwide.

Popcorn plant

The other place we visited was an AFA facility that was built for farmers that want to
produce specialty crops such as popcorn, lentils, legumes, chickpeas, black beans, etc.
Essentially, the AFA is an enormous co-op for farmers across the region. They have
Specialty seeds at AFA
approximately 2,700 employees and 39,000 members. The AFA operates in nine provinces with a total of 26 main storage facilities. In particular, this one was very impressive because of the fact that they process specialty crops, which is what we are not used to seeing back in Iowa. Their automatic system has the ability to separate a specialty crop by density, color, and size. Like Argo Uranga, this AFA facility exports a majority of their product, but mainly to Brazil for the past four years.

For tonight, we have dinner plans with our host families to celebrate our last night here in
Argentina. Then tomorrow, we will have one last stop in the morning before we head to the airport.

Day 10- All About Exports and Green Machines

Day 10 was another early one. We started off the day by heading up river to Vicentin port. A very large grain exporting port. Vicentin is roughly 80 years old and exports to China, Spain, Italy, and other Asia countries. Vicentin is a family owned company that takes pride in its employees by feeding them everyday free of cost to the employee. We students got see first hand the full process of the soybean crushing, biodiesel, loading soymeal onto barges, unloading of the trucks, and other processes that take place at this plant. It was very cool to be able to look out on the port and see the river and a ship being loaded. At full capacity the ship pictured below will take 40 hours to load and 4 days to unload. A ship like the one pictured below can hold 50 thousand tons! (That’s a lot)

The soybean crushing lines were running full speed when we were there doing 16000 tons a day between the two crushing lines. The older line can do 6000 tons a day while the new one can do 10000 tons a day! Vicentin has a total storage capacity of 360 thousands tons, which will be filled and empty over 2 times a year.

After a meal with the workers at Vicentin it was off to John Deere! This is located in a small town about 30 mins from Rosario. This plant first opened its doors in 1958. At this plant this they produce motors, assemble combines and 4 and 5 series tractors! This was very neat to see and has been a highlight of the trip for some… or maybe a downfall if you’re a red guy! Sorry Trace! We got to see first hand how the assembly line works and what it is done at each step of the process. Each day roughly 42 motors are put together, 3.5 tractors and up to 3 combines a day! Unforently we were not allowed to take pictures in the plant, but do have this one as a group pictured below!

Once back in Rosario students had some free time. Some went shopping, played cards, caught up on some sleep and just relaxed before a fancy dinner on the river.
We ended the night at Riomio, a restaurant that over looks the river. This was also a thank-you dinner with APOSGRAN group. Students had a variety of different cuts of beef and pork. The food was very good and ended the night by going to our host families.

Signing off for the final time from Argentina,
Tymbrie and Tucker

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Day 9 -- ACA Feed Mill, Rosario Board of Trade, & Dinner with APOSGRAN

Day 9 got off to a nice early start (7 am is too early for college students) to make it possible for us to take a tour of an ACA Feed Mill. ACA is the Argentine Cooperative Association. They function as a co-op of co-ops and have a wide variety of operations and products, such as animal nutrition, animal health, and production agriculture inputs. The feed mill produces a wide variety of products from Reuter, a proprietary product that improves the development of the rumen in cattle, to pet feed in varying grades and purposes. The mill does not buy any pre-mixed products and has two lines of production. The one line is primarily for Reuter production and the other line services the other products of ACA. The basic process of producing the feed starts with mixing and steaming the created mix. Then it is processed through an extruder that produces pellets required for the current product. The pellets then travel to an oven to be baked into the final product. After baking, they are sifted to remove any small particles, cooled in a counter-flow cooler, and sent through a process that coats the pellets in a liquid containing various things that enhance the product. The finished pellets then proceed to bagging. The mill had recently  installed a robotic bagging system so all the bags were filled and packaged automatically.

In the afternoon, we journeyed back into Rosario to visit the Rosario Board of Trade. It is the most important grain and grain futures market in Argentina. They still have a trading floor that operates with face to face and verbal contracts, one of the only of its kind in the world. Several people gave us presentations in the afternoon. One focused mainly on the economic significance of the Board and the services it provides to various members of the agricultural community. Another talked about the arbitration portion of the Board. Any farmer or buyer/seller of grain who has a contention of the grain grade they have received can submit samples to the Board and receive a ruling. The last presentation was about the laboratory related to the Board. The lab processes the samples from the grain arbitration cases as well as any other samples sent to them for analysis by various agencies. The Board maintains labs around the country but the one in Rosario is the most important.

After leaving the Board of Trade, we had a couple of hours to kill so we all scattered our separate ways and explored Rosario or took some needed time off at our host families houses. The cap to the night was  a dinner with APOSGRAN. APOSGRAN is an organization of individuals who are in the feed and grain processing industry. The night was filled with food, wine, and good conversations had in Spanish (and English) about farming, family, and a wide variety of topics. We all made it back to our houses by midnight to get ready for whatever the next day has to offer.


Rebekah & Trace

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Day 8--UCEL & Soybean Crushing Pilot Plant

UCEL Soybean Crushing Pilot Plant
Today our group had the opportunity to tour around UCEL (La Universidad del Centro Educativo Latinoamericano) and learn not only about the university, but also some insight into bean crushing facilities.  We were fortunate enough to be accompanied by Dr. Leticia Bourges and Dr. José Gerde, who is a former Iowa State graduate! Although we are in a different country, it is interesting to spend time with someone that has spent a fair amount of time in Iowa and Argentina as well.  We learned that UCEL is a private university which means students must pay for tuition. If a student were to go to a public university, tuition is free. Although there is added costs, UCEL was able to start a Pilot Plant for a soybean crushing facility which would’ve taken many more years had it been a public university. UCEL has various locations and offers degrees in the college of chemistry, economy and business, law and social sciences,  e-learning, and Wesley Institute.

We were welcomed very warmly by the University!

In the morning, we toured UCEL and listened to a lecture on processing soybeans and how important the industry is to Argentina.  Argentina has invested heavily in value-added processes before exporting their soybeans. Most of these processing facilities are near Rosario because of its close proximity to the Parana river.  Rosario is the farthest city up-river that ocean-going vessels can travel, making it a hub for soybean product exports.

In the afternoon, we were able to explore in more detail the processing of soybeans, and the different methods for extracting the oil from the bean. The two methods of soybean crushing are mechanical extraction and hexane extraction.  The UCEL pilot facility has the capability to do both of these methods and complete small batches to run tests on different varieties of soybeans. The plant is in partnership with the Bunge processing facility, which has a full scale plant next door.  The pilot plant has the ability to crush about 3 tonnes of soybeans per day, whereas a full scale plant is able to crush 10,000 to 20,000 tonnes per day, but the processes for both are the same. From beginning to end, the entire process takes about 1.5 hours for both the pilot and full scale plants.  From the mechanical oil extraction, the leftover cake contains approximately 8 to 10% oil, and from the hexane extraction, less than one percent of the remaining cake is oil. The remains of the soybeans after the oil is extracted can be used to feed ruminant animals because the rumen has the ability to break down the fatty acids, whereas a monogastric would not have the ability to process them.  The pilot plant is very well equipped in terms of fire prevention and new technologies. One goal the plant has is to add a teaching facility on site to teach UCEL students about soybean processing with hands-on experience.
Soybeans after different stages of processing

In the evening, we had the opportunity to sit in on a sensory analysis class.  The class focuses on using sight, smell, taste, and touch to analyze foods. We were able to evaluate honey in the class.  We rated it based on odor type, odor intensity, color, crystal size and frequency, fluidity, and other qualities. After smelling and tasting the honey, we listened to student presentations on honey in Argentina.  Although Argentina is a leading producer of honey, most of it is exported. They also touched on where consumers are getting their honey from and how frequently they eat it. For a country that produces so much of it, a large portion of the population does not consume it for various reasons.  We also got to try some delicious honey products and homemade honey treats that the students made--if only every class was like this one!
Sensory analysis of honey

--Sara and Ryan

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Day 7 - Off to Rosario

Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires

We finished our weekend by exploring more of the lovely city of Buenos Aires. We all broke up into pairs and went to a variety of locations, including a very famous cemetery called Recoleta Cemetery. Many of us shopped for souvenirs for friends and family while continuing to take in all of the sites and history. We took off for Rosario after lunch. We are excited to spend or last five nights with our host families and learn much more about the agricultural production of Argentina. 

Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Day 6- Exploring Buenos Aires

Today we bought a day pass for the tour bus and made our way around Buenos Aires. Our first stop was the governement area where we saw the Pink House (Arentine equivalent of the White House) and the house of congress. There was also a cathedral containing the tomb of San Martin, a general who liberated a number of South American countries, including Argentina. We had lunch near a small plaza full of stands selling all sorts of goods and artisan crafts. We walked through a busy fresh market where they were selling meat, vegetables, nuts, and grains. We hopped on the bus and visited La Boca, which had a street market located near some beautiful colored houses (pictured). We also stopped at La Recoleta, a large market next to a huge flower called Floralis Generic featured in the United Nations Plaza (pictured).

~Tymbrie and Tucker