Panamanian producers demand solutions for agricultural problems

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  • Sat, 01/12/2019 - 11:25
Panamanian producers demand solutions for agricultural problems

Panamanian producers come back again on Friday to demand solutions to the problems of agriculture that, they denounce, this is "seriously affected" by imports, while the Government, which ends its five-year period in June 2019, assured will buy their products.

Producers of various items such as meat, dairy and rice, among others, held new demonstrations today, at least in the central province of Coclé, despite this week in meetings with the Government, with the mediation of the Catholic Church, they had been suggested to "lower the pressure" to seek consensus.

The resumption of dialogue on Tuesday came after last month's first rapprochement resulted in violent disturbances that the Administration attributed to infiltrators from opposition political sectors, and concluded on Thursday with the Government's commitment to withdraw complaints against the producers allegedly involved in these facts.

The parties also agreed on a "joint work commission to follow up on the agreements reached between the Government and producers, which should be presented at a future meeting with the President of the Republic", Juan Carlos Varela.

Even so, Rubén Ceballos, of the Association of Rice Producers of Coclé, told local television that the message they have for the president of the country, Juan Carlos Varela, is that "in what little he has left (mandate) solve the problems of agriculture", which is something "very complex and (in what) we need solutions".

"We do not need more lies, no more lies, we need you, president (Varela), to fix the nine points of the national producers" contained in the list of demands submitted last August, said Ceballos, who warned that if these points are breached "We go back to the streets".

In addition to the workers, there were also demonstrations today in support of the University of Panama by workers, teachers' unions and students.

Nelva Reyes, general secretary of the Central General Autonomous Workers of Panama (CGTP), said that the requirement is for the government to reach agreements with producers "to the extent that food security and food sovereignty is guaranteed."

For his part, the Panamanian Minister of Agricultural Development, Eduardo Carles, told reporters today that from the Government "we are going to define purchases this week of their dairy products for the whole 2019".

Carles affirmed that "national purchases will be made as has been done in these four years in other specific items such as rice".

"Guarantee that in the transition period (of this Government), and also comprehensive reviews of the financial supports that we are currently giving, which already amount to 200 million dollars", said the head of the agricultural portfolio.

Last August the producers presented to the National Government a list of nine petitions in which, among other points, they ask that access to the national product market be guaranteed, durability and stability for the agricultural sector and commitment to the country's food security.

They also demand the repeal of Decree Law 11 of 2006 that created the Panamanian Food Safety Authority (Aupsa), and that the Trade Authorities take control of the excessive imports of some products such as mozzarella cheese.


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