The country’s inflation has not exceeded 100 percent in over three decades as the value of Argentina’s currency plummets.
The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC) released its February report on Tuesday, putting Argentina’s annual inflation rate at 102.5 percent as the country continues to suffer one of its worst economic crises in decades.
In February alone, inflation rose by 6.6 percent, with food and beverages identified as the category of goods most affected. INDEC credited the 9.8 percent increase in food costs to high prices for meat, dairy and egg products.
The latest jump in inflation comes as Argentina struggles with a historic drought, its worst in nearly 60 years, and forest fires in areas such as northern Corrientes province.
The country is a leading exporter of soybeans, along with the United States and Brazil, as well as other agricultural products such as corn, wheat and other grains.
But with crops failing in Argentina’s fertile grasslands, known as the Pampas, industry experts have slashed the country’s expected agricultural yields to levels not seen since the turn of the century. High temperatures believed to be triggered by climate change have besieged the country since May 2022.
Argentina has the second largest economy in South America. But for most of the last century, its market has been notoriously volatile, with a debt crisis in the 1980s spurring chronic hyperinflation throughout that decade.
The inflation crisis peaked in 1989 with rates reaching more than 3,000 percent at certain points.
Struggling with its mounting international debt, Argentina in 2018 arranged a controversial deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more than 57 billion. USD in credit – the largest loan package in the fund’s history.
But inflation has crept higher since 2018 and the country has struggled to keep up with its repayment schedule. A new loan agreement of $44 billion. was agreed with the IMF in 2022 to replace the 2018 plan.
On Monday, the IMF announced it had reached a “staff-level agreement” to ease the country’s economic targets under the new debt plan, citing “the challenges of an increasingly severe drought”.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency, shoppers on the outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires expressed frustration with Argentina’s economic struggles and the toll it was taking on their cost of living.
“There’s just nothing left. There’s no money. People don’t have anything, so how do they buy?” said Irene Devita, 74-year-old retiree shopping for groceries.
She told Reuters that she had recently been forced to forego a planned purchase of tomatoes when food costs exceeded her ability to pay.
Another shopper, 50-year-old Patricia Quiroga, expressed frustration at politicians’ apparent inability to curb inflation.
“I’m tired, tired, just tired of all this, of the politicians fighting while people are dying of hunger,” she told Reuters. “This can’t go on any longer.”
Argentina is due to hold parliamentary elections, including presidential ones, in October.