Inflation in the country has not exceeded 100 percent in more than three decades, while the value of the Argentine currency has plummeted.
Inflation in the South American country of Argentina rose above 100 percent for the first time since 1991, according to the latest government consumer price index.
The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC) released its February report on Tuesday, putting Argentina’s annual inflation at 102.5 percent as the country continues to suffer one of its worst economic crises in decades.
Inflation rose by 6.6 percent in February alone, with food and beverages identified as the most affected category of goods. INDEC attributed the 9.8 percent increase in food costs to soaring meat, dairy and egg prices.
The latest inflation spike comes as Argentina grapples with a historic drought, the worst in nearly 60 years, and forest fires in areas such as the northern province of Corrientes.
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 as crops fail 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 caused by climate change, have gripped the country since May 2022.
Argentina has the second largest economy in South America. But for most of the last century, its market was notoriously volatile, with the debt crisis of the 1980s fueling that decade’s chronic hyperinflation.
The inflationary crisis peaked in 1989, with levels reaching over 3,000 percent at certain times.
Struggling with its spiraling international debt, Argentina settled a controversial deal in 2018 with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more than $57 billion in credit — the largest loan package in the fund’s history.
But inflation has risen since 2018 and the country is struggling to keep pace with its repayment plan. A new $44 billion loan agreement was reached with the IMF in 2022 to replace the 2018 plan.
The IMF announced on Monday that 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 burden it has placed on the cost of living.
“There’s just nothing left. No money. People don’t have anything, so how do they buy?” said Irene Devita, a 74-year-old retiree who was shopping for groceries.
She told Reuters that she was recently forced to abandon a planned purchase of tomatoes because food costs exceeded her ability to pay.
Another shopper, Patricia Quiroga, 50, expressed frustration at the seeming inability of politicians to curb inflation.
“I’m tired, tired, just tired of all this, of politicians fighting while people starve,” she told Reuters. “This cannot go on any longer.”
Argentina will hold general elections, including a presidential one, this October.