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What's with the shortage of onions in Panama?

Onions have become harder and harder to find in Chiriqui. Some vegetable markets only have red onions and others have tiny, little, half rotten onions, and some have no onions at all? Is it because Varela added onions to the price control list and the growers are protesting?

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2 hours ago, Penny said:

Onions have become harder and harder to find in Chiriqui. Some vegetable markets only have red onions and others have tiny, little, half rotten onions, and some have no onions at all? Is it because Varela added onions to the price control list and the growers are protesting?

Penny:

 

Probably but the real thing is according to what I read the severe drought at the beginning of the year affected to much the crops.  

 

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Apparently there is almost always controversy in the onion market. 

In order to stop the importation of lower cost, poor quality onions, laws were enacted a few years back which established minimum standards. Some will remember a few months ago when local producers here were gathered down at the Caldera turnoff in order to prevent the movement of imports. 

Since onions are a staple and part of the Canasta Basica, consumer prices are controlled. Producers complain they can't grow national onions profitably at the controlled levels and importers say they can't purchase and supply imports at the prices set for them either.

Price controls were just renewed on the 6th and I think nationally grown onions remained at 60 cents a pound. I guess the catch is that there aren't any.

Arrangements have been made for 20,000 quintales to be imported from the U.S., half of which have arrived. A quintal is equal to 100 kilograms or about 220 pounds.

 

Edited by Keith Woolford
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  • 2 weeks later...

This is an extensive article from today's LaPrensa about onions, their production and pricing. freetranslation

Onions, Shortages and High Prices

The low local production of onion, registered in the country since 2008 due to imports, climate change and the lack of support to the agricultural sector, has past invoicing and directly affects consumers.

Currently, in the market and in the San Felipe Neri market yellow onions - preferred by Panamanians, were sold at $1.50 per pound, in spite of the fact that their price is regulated at $0.80 per pound.

In the supermarket chains they are offering the imported "Jumbo" size, which is not regulated, and costs $1.43 per pound.

The authorities allege that part of the problem is due to the clandestine "export" of the lower grade local onion that occurred during this time.

And while the precise enough import of the product for the stabilization of the market, price volatility has been felt.

For example, a quintal of onion, that in accordance with the regulation should be $80, is currently being sold in the market between $110 and $130.

Oscar Garcia, general manager of the Authority of consumer protection and defense of the competition (Acodeco), announced that as a result of the violations recorded in the shops, starting this week will double the fines.

"Now, to supermarkets that fails to comply with the price control measures will apply fines of $1,000. In the case of the minisúper, the punishment shall be $500; the abarroterías, $250; and the small local, $100".

Los productores aseguran que la cebolla que está entrando al país fue cosechada desde octubre de 2015. Tienen más de 120 días de almacenamiento.
Producers claim that onions now entering the country were harvested in October 2015, more than 120 days of storage

The ingredient of conflict

Qne of the favorite ingredients in the bureau of Panamanians is the onion. In the rice with chicken, steak, salad, sancocho and in the ceviche dominguero in the market of seafood. The Panamanians have a fetish with the onion. Especially with the yellow.

This ingredient, that you can not miss in the bag of consumer market, has become in recent days in one of the topics that has captured the attention of the country. The reason is not only due to the absence of the product of the anaqueles- because it has started to arrive the bulb importado- , but the cost that is achieved.

Climate change, imports, abandonment to the agricultural sector, price control and the alleged clandestine exports are some of the reasons that have affected the production and marketing of onion, according to the allegations of producers, traders and representatives of the Government.

For workers in the field, the topic of the onion is a problem of old data. But the Genesis seems to be the same.

The trip began in 2008, the year in which Panama has ceased to be self-sufficient in this production. For that then in the country were planted near thousand 160 hectares of onion, but the plantations were falling down little by little, to such an extent that today hardly occur 300 hectares, which represents a downward variation of 860 hectares.

At the start of the fall in production, are not looked for alternatives, as to inject more capital into the land or support to producers. Salvation is found in imports, ensures Augusto Jimenez, president of the Association of the Community producers of Highlands (Acpta).

"The Panamanian was sold the idea that import food was easier than to produce it, which led to the bankruptcy of the productive sector of the country, which since 2008 has lost nearly 35 thousand hectares in all products ", ensures the worker in the field.

Harvest versus import

in Panama, onion occurs the twelve months of the year.

From January to April is achieved meet the local demand for 200 thousand quintals.

From April to December, manage to produce other 120 thousand quintals. This implies that the country be supplied with nearly 320 thousand quintals per year, when consumers demand 600 thousand quintals. But the problem is much more complex than this mathematical calculation.

In 2014, for example, imported 350 thousand quintals of onion, while in 2015 it bought 325 thousand quintals of this product. The entry of the onion coincided with the period of greater harvest, so that the product is overflowed in the shops.

Was the "era of onion". So much in the country were onion for that time, that the market was saturated and had to discard, says Jimenez.

In October 2014, the Government sacrificed State funds through the Instituto de Mercadeo Agropecuario (IMA) to buy national onion; the bought, but could not sell because the country was overrun with imports.

After seeing that it was losing the national product, were dug graves and were buried near 3 thousand quintals of onions (660 thousand pounds), ensures the producer.

The then director of the IMA Edwin Cárdenas recognized that the market was saturated by imports of onion, which hampered the rapid sale of the local product.

"This brought as a consequence that the national producer is deprimiera and not entrusted to plant more. Now, in the absence of onion or to be found in the unfair price of $1.50 per pound to the consumer, automatically the gaze falls on the producers. However, we were the only ones which we warned that this could happen," said Jiménez.

CONTROL TO THE onion

in July 2014, the president of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, signed an executive decree through which regulated the control of price of 22 articles of first necessity, among them, the yellow onion, that you set a price of 60 cents per pound.

Two years after, producers of onion and pope requested an increase of 20 cents a pound of this product, thus leaving the maximum sales price to 80 cents.

The adjustment had its genesis in the fact that the controlled price originally established prevented profits for the producers. And merchants complained of the low profitability of selling below the price at which you bought.

Once you made the change in the control of price a week ago, the Quintal (220 pounds of onions) should be achieved in $80, but is available to consumers between $110 and $130 the quintal, in accordance with market vendors San Felipe Nery.

Before this fact, Oscar Garcia, general manager of the Authority of consumer protection and defense of the competition (Acodeco), ensures that have intensified the operations in recent weeks. "Last Monday we stayed in the central agricultural market where checked 36 posts. Of this total, were placed fines to 9 shops".

Garcia notes that many local authorities have chosen not to put the price of the product, which to the Acodeco represents an anomaly because surely the consumer is is selling the onion above the price ceiling.

Clarified that both the yellow onion jumbo as the dwelling are not within the control of prices. "which is under the control of prices is the yellow, whether local and imported".

For the chairman of the Group King, Nicholas Psychoyos, these anomalies are now with the production and marketing of the onion in the country were due in part to a bad programming of imports and an evil census regarding the amount of onion available in the field.

Explains that, currently, the Group King opted not to sell national onion, due to its price in the market is achieved above that stipulated by the control of prices. "We opted not to sell before violating the law, are decisions that every merchant should take," says.

While adjustments are made eminent for local producers, these seek alternatives "clandestine" outside the borders.

According to Rodrigo Araúz, coordinator of agri-food chains of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MEASURE), the consequences that generated the shortage of onion were the effects of climate change and the output of approximately 45 thousand quintals of onion without control by the border with Costa Rica.

According to the official, in the neighboring country, the price per quintal of onion was $115, while in Panama the regulated price was $60.

Augusto Jimenez says that these allegations are "false". "The sale of onion in highlands has always been to local traders and traditional. This is an excuse to cover the abandonment to the agricultural sector and to cap that now is not good business for importers to bring onion to country by the scarcity that there are in the world today".

http://impresa.prensa.com/panorama/Cebolla-escasez-altos-precios_0_4531046852.html

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Price controls almost always lead to problems with supply.  If there is little or no profit to be made selling at the legal maximum, then the producer would be stupid to continue to produce that item.  If the price is set too high, the consumer is harmed and being forced to pay windfall profits to the producer.

It's not helpful to anyone if the price is 60 cents/lb.  and none are available at that price.

Perhaps price controls make sense as an emergency measure following a disaster or disruption to prevent price gouging, but an argument can even be made against that.  In general, price controls just ultimately backfire.

My two (price controlled) cents...

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I was in David today and stopped at Rey.  No onions in sight; not red, not yellow.  I just left the veggie place across the street from Senor Gyros and CHOX, and while they had the regular supply of small yellow onions, they also had a large bag of these:

onion.JPG

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I understand that the imported onions don't have price controls. (I think that's the larger onions.) A local vege stand in Volcan wants $1.50.lb. Up the hill toward Cerro Punta one of the "wholesalers" for the local onions wants $1.00 per lb., which is against the law. (The "controlled" price is 80 cents/lb.) Berard's  had a few the other day for 80 cents/lb. Romero hasn't had any for quite some time.

 I agree that price controls are not a good idea.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chiriqui Producers Demand Resignation of ACODECO Administrator

The producers of the highlands Chiricanas are demanding the resignation of the administrator of the Authority of consumer protection and defense of the competition (Acodeco), Oscar Garcia.

Jiménez consideró que al mantener el precio de la cebolla en 65 centésimos y no en 80 centésimos no se ha cometido ningún delito.

The request of the producers arises because Garcia stated that was going to sue them to lower the price of the onion.

The President of the association of producers in the Highlands, Augusto Jimenez, said that are calling for the resignation or dismissal of Garcia because they believe that he has displayed total ignorance in the field of agriculture .

Jimenez said that the common good must prevail and considered that by keeping the price of onion in 65 cents and not in 80 cents has not committed any crime.

He added that Garcia lied to indicate that in a meeting the producers had applied for importation.

"We are hoping that we demand because we want to know who or what interests García truly responds," said.

In both the Minister of Agricultural Development, Eduardo Enrique Carles, said that will talk with Garcia for that do not demand to producers.

Carles indicated that it sees the need to do so because it is a topic that is of a regulation and of supply and that must not be reaching out to those ends.

"I do not believe that we have to get to monopolistic demands of prices to agricultural products", he added.

http://www.prensa.com/provincias/Productores-chiricanos-renuncie-Administrador-Acodeco_0_4540046027.html

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Interesting article in Newsroom Panama this morning:

OFF THE CUFF Veggie supply and price problems

Posted on July 30, 2016 in Off The Cuff, Panama

carrots-620x264.jpg
Post Views: 53

OFF THE CUFF Veggie supply and price problems

WHILE HOTELS and restaurants are bemoaning the shortage of oinions consumers of other basic vegetables are complaining of the rocketing prices since a year ago.

Restaurateur’s point out that if they have no onions and are forced to cut service there is a a chain effect that hits the revenues of suppliers of eggs, milk, meat or soda   and other products and employees.

Yori Morales, president of the Association of Traders Food Central Agricultural Market (MAC), said  that the onion has great role in the development of dishes in  hotels, restaurants and fast food franchises.

“The onion is so important for the preparation of hamburgers, and food  with international character as when a  European hotel guest asks for  a steak with onions or a cebiche” said Morales.

Armando Rodriguez, president of the small hotels in Panama, said the shortage affects the service in the hotel restauarants  and therefore the visitor experience.

Morales said that the country consumes 45,000 bags of onions a month, so to supply the entire country requires at least 30 containers of onions.

This requires a logistics post-loading evaluations carried out by the Food Protection Authority (AUPSA) distribution.

Therefore, a rapid assessment is needed to supply the country said Morales.

Between Friday and Saturday, AUPSA released about 5,000 bags.

Meanwhile the price of onions has rocketed  along with 100% increases in the  wholesale price of celery and carrots, which means an even bigger increase for consumers in supermarkets.

When President Juan Carlos Varela returns from his European jaunt he will be faced with problems in Santo Tomas Hospital and with consumers wondering about his promise to keep the lid on the price of basic foods.

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Producers Still Crying as ONION Wars Continue

At least 50 onion producers in the Highlands, province of Chiriquí, conducted a peaceful protest in front of the Cold Chain facilities in Volcan, to denounce the lack of marketing of the product on Monday 3 October
Comerciantes de cebolla protestaron frente a las instalaciones del centro postcosecha de Volcán.
 
The president of the Association of Producers of Highlands (APTA), Augusto Jimenez, said that they face a serious problem of marketing and that they were only able to deliver - the Institute of Marketing Agricultural Products (IMA)- 3 thousand quintals of onion of 10 thousand that were agreed upon.

According to Jiménez, the director of the board of directors of national markets in the cold chain, Virgilio Saldaña, alters shifts for the delivery of onions and uses the center as if it was his own property to its production of onion is processed first.
 
He added that this situation goes to the detriment of other producers in the area. He expressed that 10 thousand quintals of onion without market still remain in the field.

For its part, Saldaña indicated that his position is not remunerated and that he is also director of the Cold Chain.
 
 
Edited by Keith Woolford
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3 hours ago, Gordon Bakke said:

Ironically, the "cold chain facilities" in Volcan (cold storage) appear to not be used at all. A huge financial investment that over the last few years has done almost nothing. What a sad waste of money (so far) by the Martinelli admin.

 

Gordon:

The idea, in general, was good.  Even if that came from Martinelli's government.  The problem we actually had is that our Exce-lentisimo President Varela looks like he has adversion for everything done by the Martinelli's government.  He has stopped several project in Panama and most of them are totally stopped.  The Cold Chain Project was a promise of the previous government and Varela dont want to continue it.  

That is why the popularity of Varela's government is going down in the polls.  

 

Edited by Roger B
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8 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

Producers Still Crying as ONION Wars Continue

........
 
The president of the Association of Producers of Highlands (APTA), Augusto Jimenez, said that they face a serious problem of marketing and that they were only able to deliver - the Institute of Marketing Agricultural Products (IMA)- 3 thousand quintals of onion of 10 thousand that were agreed upon.

According to Jiménez, the director of the board of directors of national markets in the cold chain, Virgilio Saldaña, alters shifts for the delivery of onions and uses the center as if it was his own property to its production of onion is processed first.
 
He added that this situation goes to the detriment of other producers in the area. He expressed that 10 thousand quintals of onion without market still remain in the field.

For its part, Saldaña indicated that his position is not remunerated and that he is also director of the Cold Chain.
 
 

 

I think that all the agricultural producers should join and create a distribution company and a marketing company for their products.  As an association they could get financing from the banking systems and not depend of unreliable, bad managed, not good government agencies.  Together they could have access to financing for such venture.

 

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Agreement to Import Onions

Because of a local reported shortage of the product, Panamanian authorities informed that they have agreed to authorize the import of 60,000 quintals of onion, which will enter the country during July and August.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The decision was taken at the extraordinary session of the Potato and Onion Agrifood Chain Commission. It was also reported that the plan is to reduce temporarily from 72% to 0%, the tariff that applies to the import of onion.

Augusto Valderrama, Minister of Agricultural Development, explained to Laestrella.com.pa that "... it is expected that a first batch of 30 thousand quintals of onion between this same month of July and the rest in August. With this 'we are going to be able to supply the percentage of consumption in July and August'."

You may be interested in "Crops: Main Figures in Central America

The article adds that "... In recent years, onion production has suffered a significant deficit. It has gone from 1,200 hectares sown a few years ago to 450 hectares today."

The authorities stated that in the coming weeks they will evaluate the performance of the onion supply and that if necessary the measure will be extended for two more months.

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Agreement_to_Import_Onions

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to What's With The Shortage of Onions in Panama?
  • 3 weeks later...
  • Moderators
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Onion: Shortage Forces Price Up

Businessmen in Panama report that before the country began to scarce produce, the 50-pound sack cost between $25 and $35, but is currently priced at $66.

Monday, July 29, 2019

At the beginning of July, it was reported that because of the shortage of the product in the local market, the import of 80,000 quintals of onion was authorized between July and September of this year.

Domingo de Obaldía, president of the Restaurants and Allied Association of Panama, explained to Panamaamerica.com.pa that "... it is difficult to get onion because prices are exorbitant. A few weeks ago the 50 pound sack cost 150 dollars, then dropped to $77 and is now at 66 dollars in the Supply Market. Before the shortage was reported, the price of the onion sack ranged from $25 to $35."

Obaldía added that "... We hope that the contingent of 60,000 quintals of U.S. onion that will enter Panama may lower the cost slightly. This is a useless situation and for the first time we are going to bring in a contingent that does not overlap at harvest time."

As stipulated by the authorities, to supply the Panamanian market, a first part of 20,000 quintals of onion will be imported by the Agricultural Marketing Institute (IMA) before the end of July, because of the notorious urgency. It will be sold to the Cooperativa de Comercializadores de Alimentos de Panamá (COOSEMUPA) R.L.. The other part, 60 thousand quintals of onions, must be imported during the period from August 1 to September 30 of this year, applying the performance requirement, participating only traders who bought domestic production.

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Onion_Shortage_Forces_Price_Up

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  • 3 weeks later...
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No tears as onion prices monitored

acodeco.jpg

Posted 16/08/2019

Staff of Panama’s  Consumer Protection Authority  (Acodeco) swooped on  stallholders in Merca Panama  on Friday, August 16 to check that imported onions are not being sold  at above the permitted price

More than 60,000 thousand quintals of onion were imported tariff-free in an emergency move.

 National and imported yellow onions, packaged or not, must be sold at a maximum price of 80 cents per pound.

The regulation excludes organic onions and those with a diameter greater than 84 millimeters.

On July 16, the Cabinet Council approved the temporary elimination of the onion import tariff with the intention of supplying the country's consumption between July and September 2019.

In Panama, a total of 270 producers are dedicated to growing 484 hectares of onions, a production that currently only supplies 25% of local consumption.

On August 7, the first shipment of onions arrived in Merca Panama, from the United States

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/no-tears-as-onion-prices-monitored-1

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