Paraguay Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Agriculture and fishing

Paraguay is a prominent agricultural country. The sector accounts for one fifth of gross domestic product (GDP), one quarter of jobs and a large proportion of official export revenue. Soybean cultivation has taken over from livestock management as the dominant activity.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Paraguay. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

The land distribution is among the most unequal in the world. Just over 2 percent of landowners own 85 percent of the land, while many small farmers do not own any land at all. According to estimates, there are over 300,000 farming families in rural areas that lack their own land. Livestock ownership is also unequal: more than half of the livestock is owned by one percent of the producers.

President Fernando Lugo came to power in 2008 largely on the promise of a more equitable distribution of agricultural land, but the conservative opposition in Parliament was so strong that he never could do anything about the oblique distribution. He also did not fulfill the promise of a thorough review of the landowner register, which is believed to contain many false or outdated information.

Agriculture has undergone a transformation. Livestock for a long time dominated large ranches, with mainly cattle but also horses, sheep and pigs. The beef industry was the most important element of the economy. Until the 1950s, many families lived by using a corner of the landlord’s extensive property. When the land was later sold to Brazilians using modern technology, there was no room for all small farmers. Otherwise, there were most small independent farms with the cultivation of traditional crops such as cotton, tobacco and the tea-like plant yerba mate. For Paraguay defense and foreign policy, please check themotorcyclers.

In recent decades, there has been a massive transformation from traditional agricultural activity to large-scale commercial cultivation of soybeans. From 1967 foreign land ownership was allowed, which led to tens of thousands of Brazilians moving to eastern Paraguay where they acquired land. With the soy, the cultivated area has increased, while the oblique distribution has worsened. Soybeans are growing on almost 80 percent of the cultivated land today. This has had serious social consequences (see Current policy) and has led to extensive deforestation (see Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment).

Paraguay is one of the world’s largest exporters of soybeans. A large part of the soybeans are processed within the country. Cotton exports are also significant. Other export crops are oilseeds, fruits, sugarcane, vegetables and coffee. The most important crops for domestic use are maize, cassava, rice and wheat.

The country is also one of the world’s largest meat exporters. In 2005, Paraguay was declared free from the dreaded cattle disease foot-and-mouth disease, which contributed to a sharp increase in meat exports. A fall to the economy came in 2011 when an outbreak of the disease still occurred, but exports have recovered.

Forest assets have declined sharply in recent decades (see Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment). Fishing in lakes and rivers takes place almost exclusively for the local market.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

10.5 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

55.1 percent (2016)

  • Offers how the 3-letter acronym of PRY stands for the state of Paraguay in geography.



PLRA appoints presidential candidate

When the PLRA holds its primary election, as expected, Efraín Alegre is named the party’s presidential candidate for the April 2013 election.

The Colorado Party appoints presidential candidate

Banker and tobacco magnate Horacio Cartes becomes the presidential candidate of the Colorado Party. He gets 60 percent of the vote in the party’s primary election.

Ground activist murdered

Vidal Vega, leader of a landless peasant movement involved in the land dispute in Canindeyú, was shot dead. He participated in the investigation of the incident in June and was expected to testify at the trial. Prosecution is brought a few days later against 14 farm workers suspected of involvement in the shooting drama that claimed the lives of 17 people.


The Guasu Front appoints presidential candidate

The Guasu Front presents its candidate in the presidential election: Doctor Aníbal Carrillo Iramain. Among other things, he has the support of the deposed President Lugo.

New party may line up

The new party formation The country is moving forward (Avanza país, AP) gets the sign of the election authority. It is led by Mario Ferreiro, who was expected to become the presidential candidate of the Guasú Front (see March 2010), but broke away and joined several of the Front’s parties. The left is thus severely fragmented before the election.

Protest for Stroessner’s 100th birthday

Ex-dictator Stroessner still causes conflict, six years after his death. Relatives want to return his dust from Brazil, in connection with the centenary of his birth. Activists and former political prisoners protest.


Paraguay is suspended from regional cooperation

The two regional organizations Mercosur and Unasur shut down Paraguay until the 2013 presidential election in protest of Lugo’s resignation. However, no sanctions are imposed. In several neighboring countries, the provision of Lugo is called a coup d’état.


President Lugo deposed

June 22

One week after the turmoil in Canindeyú, the opposition raises national lawsuits against the president. Both chambers vote within a 24-hour period with a large margin to dismiss Lugo. Vice President Federico Franco takes power. The reason for the sale is mainly the relocation, but also lack of security, a controversial land purchase and a lack of authority.

Violent when land occupation is lifted

June 15

Eleven farmworkers and six police officers die in gunfire, which erupts when police evacuate the land occupants in Canindeyú (see May 2012).

Lugo acknowledges yet another paternity

Lugo recognizes the paternity of a ten-year-old boy (see also April 2009).


Mark occupation in Canindeyú

Around 150 families, landless farmers, occupy a property in Canindeyú in eastern Paraguay. According to a decision in 2004, the land is to be handed over to landless farmers, but a company claims ownership and the case is stuck in the courts.


Land occupants are moved to the national park

President Lugo promises land to landless peasants, who have occupied an area in eastern Paraguay. Several thousand of them are moved to a national park. According to the government, this is a temporary solution, but the criticism will be harsh from, among other things, environmental groups. The situation focuses on Lugo’s difficulties in fulfilling its promise of land reform, due to the conservative opposition of the National Congress and the lack of state land to distribute.

Paraguay Agriculture and Fishing