The rice farmers in Panama, a Central American country, have been hit hard by the disparity between their prices and the international prices of the major rice producers of the world. The situation has reached its peak and squeezed the domestic rice producers, many of whom are abandoning the crop. If this problem is not resolved quickly, the consequences will start to follow. The country could stop planting about 20,000 hectares, said sources close to the Agriculture sector.
The leader of the Rice Growers Association of Chiriqui (Apach) said that there are issues to be further discussed with the government such as financing to the farmers and extensive facility for use of irrigation at an economical cost and the adequacy of land. But the greatest concern is the rearrangement of rice imports that stood at 1.4 million quintals last year. As a consequence, the mills were saturated and domestic rice prices fell a great deal, and although all of the production was absorbed, the costs could not been factored in. “We should be selling paddy at between $24 and $25 per quintal, but instead we received between $21 and $22 and those that traded above $25 were few and far between” explained a rice producer.
However the chief of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA) said that “the country has increased domestic production of rice this year, therefore imports of this grain will be reduced ‘ by nearly half ‘what was imported in previous years. ” The increase in 5,800 hectares of land planted with rice in 2015 will lead to an increase in local production of rice that will reduce imports requirements of the domestic market by almost half.