This year marked the 35th annual EXPO Paraguay event, a trade fair uniting an international mix of those working in the livestock, industry, agriculture, commerce and services sectors
Leading Edge (LE): What is the EXPO all about?
Silvio Vargas Senior (SV): The EXPO is a consortium comprising the Paraguay Rural Association (ARP) and the Paraguay Industrial Union (UIP). The agreement was signed by the presidents of those two organisations at the time. In the beginning the event happened on dirt roads but now the whole EXPO is tarmac. The event takes place at premises covering 25 hectares, 14.5km from the centre of Asunción.
LE: What role have you played in the EXPO?
SV: I started in 1978 as the exhibition organiser, assistant organiser and then general exhibition organiser. From 2004 I started to be part of the EXPO board, entering the customer service department of the President of the ARP. In 2005, the President invited me to lead the EXPO public relations department and I still hold that position now.
LE: How many people visit the EXPO?
SV: The fair lasts for 16 days and receives between 650-750 thousand visitors per year. The EXPO is a multi-sector exhibition and as soon as the farmers finish the EXPO they start to prepare for the following year.
LE: How do the cattle ranchers benefit from the EXPO?
SV: If your animals win a prize then their value doubles or trebles. The judges come and try to understand what the market is looking for. There are big benefits for the winning ranch.
LE: How much money is spent at the EXPO?
SV: In the cattle section 33 breeds compete each year with a total of 2,800 animals registered. Investment in genetics and infrastructure is considerable. We look for premium markets in industry and trade to create new niche markets.
LE: What is the EXPO’s ultimate aim?
SV: It is about public relations and getting your product discovered by the 700,000 people who visit the EXPO. A considerable impact can be made simply by being there. There is room for everyone here. It’s a popular and inclusive fair. Visitors pay 18,000 Guarani per day and there are different types of ticket.
LE: What about the more recreational aspects of the event?
SV Junior (SVJ): At night there are concerts and large crowds attend paying $2 for a ticket. Each exhibitor and each brand organise events, with up to four or five outdoor recreational events in a single day. Major national radio stations take part organising events and live broadcasts at the entrance.
LE: Paraguay has become the world’s fourth-largest exporter of meat. What is the key thing to focus on to ensure this increase in production and exports is sustainable?
SV: We need to strengthen how we manage selling the country and its produce. There has been very big increase in quality. There has never been such major growth in genetics in Paraguay as we’ve seen in the last 15 years. This helped with regards to the quality of Paraguayan meat.
LE: Which country is the biggest attendee of the EXPO?
SV: Argentina, with a large number of genetics companies that come to show their work and offer their services.
LE: How does the government support the EXPO and who benefits from the event?
SV: The government supports the event with police, firefighters and ambulances. We have meetings with different ministers who give us 100% support. Both the UIP and the ARP greatly depend on the EXPO’s success. Their budget largely depends on the event doing well.
LE: What does this work mean to you both?
SV: For me the EXPO is something I feel strongly about, it has taught me many things. The best thing is the final day, when all the organisers come out and we are congratulated for our work.
SVJ: For me it was a very important step in my career. I took charge of the public relations department where I had great colleagues and coordinators.