As per latest information available, it has been indicated that the rice farmers in the province of Chiriqui fear that rice imports that were planned by the Government for the commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and by shortages approved in January from entering the country during the national harvest rice which began in July and runs until December, as stated by Mr Gabriel Arauz, President of the Association of Rice Producers. It has also been explained that the problem is that it must enter the country one million 300 thousand dollars for shortages that were approved in January and one million for mills and 300 million pounds for the Institute of Agricultural Marketing (IMA) and 214,000 quintals was agreed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) according to the producers.
Further, in this matter, it has been stated that problem lies in the imported rice, which causes mills to occupy the silos and take the position of not wanting to receive domestic rice to market the imported. It has also been revealed by the President that Apach agree with imports because at this time, and the producers can not supply the domestic consumption but should be planned to avoid affecting domestic production accordingly. Further, Arauz told that it is estimated that nationwide 4 million 651 thousand 200 quintals harvested, which must be delivered to the mills, to receive compensation of 7.50 per quintal of rice. However, the problem in the rice sector remains due to price volatility and imports, causing deemed to planting rice down on some 3,000 hectares that have stopped growing, a total of 18 000 ha which they were scheduled.
As per report, Apach President confirmed that many of the hectares that have stopped growing, producers have chosen to lease for planting cane, since payment is guaranteed by the use of the land. The Director of the Ministry of Agricultural Development in Chiriqui, Rolando Guerrero, confirmed that the survey was initiated to determine rice grain imports to be made in the coming months to meet the need of consumption of Panamanians. According to the survey carried out in the field, warehouses, mills and supermarkets has been coordinated by the Authority for Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (Acodeco). Mr Guerrero narrated that Panama only produces 60% of national consumption, and producers have not expanded the number of hectares planted. However, Measure Regional Director ensures that rice imports will be determined by the President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela and the National Director of the Institute of Agricultural Marketing (IMA).