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Protests OverThe State Abandoninig the Agricultural Sector; Calls For Tariff Protection

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Protesting farmers “cheated” by Varela

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Hundreds of farmers from across  the country demonstrated in Divisa, Herrera,   on  Thursday, June 21 to  protest growing imports which they claim are devastating Panama’s agricultural sector,

The producers were posted at the entrance of the facilities of the Ministry of Development Agropecuario in Divisa and announced that they would march 4 kilometers on the Inter-American Highway to highlight their concerns

Aquiles Acevedo, president of the National Association of Cattle Ranchers (Anagan) said that not only the ranchers are dissatisfied, but also poultry farmers and beans, maize and vegetable producers, who agree that the government is making them disappear.

He said  that they have met on three occasions with President Juan Carlos Varela, and a dozen times with the middle managers, and each time the number of import companies increases

“We feel cheated,” said Acevedo, indicating that only this Wednesday, June 20, the Official Gazette published the establishment of seven importing plants in Nicaragua and Argentina (six of meat and one of milk).

“The agricultural sector is going through a very chaotic situation, warned Acevedo, and if they do not have answers we will paralyze the country at different points.



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State rapped over abandoned farmers

Farmers from across the country march to confront Varela
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Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture  (Cciap) has condemned the State abandonment of the agricultural sector which has led to the current stream of street protests and constant complaints from producers, and calls for measures to prevent the imminent exacerbation of the problems.

“The situation lies in the lack of State policies that, by not knowing the strategic importance of agriculture in the life of the country, they left it unprotected, without a guiding compass and at the mercy of cyclical subsidies that eventually fostered the desertion of the field and the migration of youth to urban centers … “this has led us in a few years to e the disappearance of  a great number of products that previously arrived fresh at the tables of our homes. ”

The Chamber argues that “the special characteristics of our economy impose the need to harmonize the relationship between the different productive sectors, in this case, the agricultural and the importer, so that, instead of collision they converge in finding the solutions for the problems of universal interest “.

The farmworkers have gone so far as to throw away their products or march with horses and cows to the Presidency to raise awareness of the authorities because they feel overwhelmed by imports.

cartoon-imports-300x93.jpgThe Cciap stressed that “it is completely inappropriate to authorize the importation of items coinciding with their harvest cycles in the country “.

There is “the imperative need to create a single National Food Authority of Food to ensure the safety of all foods, wherever they come from, ” said the Chamber’s statement.

The businessmen also reasoned that the Institute of Agricultural Marketing (IMA) “must resume the spirit for which it was created, the role of direct imports of agricultural products.  and the definition of market prices, because it  represents unfair competition for domestic producers.”

This institute must, above all, market Panamanian agricultural the production so that it can face the “challenges posed by trade agreements and the opening of international markets.

The Chamber also underlined the inefficiency of subsidies as an effective response to structural deficiencies and asks for empowerment in the management of family businesses in the production and marketing of exportable items, as well as financial facilities in appropriate conditions.

“These policies must integrate the family environment with the fundamental purpose of Affirming a high sense of permanence, as well as belonging and pride among those who work the land, “to stop the exodus to the cities.

In addition, they reject the price control established by the Varela government from 2014 because “it is contributing to killing the sector. It was an emergency measure that they decided to extend, further deteriorating the industry. ”

The Cciap announced that it will carry out “extensive consultations in  Country Agenda 2019-2024, to reflect specific recommendations that stimulate the agricultural sector, where national producers, agribusiness, trade and the State are engaged … and we will seek to provide practical and viable suggestions the report concludes.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Protests OverThe State Abandoninig the Agricultural Sector
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Panamanian producers call for new protests against imports

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 17:07

Diseño sin título (22).jpg

Panamanian agricultural leaders today announced new protests to demand to stop the lack of control over imports and the Government of Juan Carlos Varela establishes the basis for "a momentous change" in land management.

New demonstrations are being convened for next Wednesday in several areas of the interior of Panama and would include road block, according to some of the driving forces of the measure.

Land producers began with public protests at the end of last July, and on Friday they gave up a negotiation table installed by the Executive in the absence of timely responses to their demands, including the control of imports that, they say, flood the local market.

"We are broken (...) the animals are hungry," Juan Guevara, a member of the Association of Porcupines, told local television on Monday, reiterating the producers demand that President Varela be the one to "take the control" of the issue and present a roadmap to overcome the situation.

Guevara said, like many other leaders, the Panamanian countryside is affected by an uncontrolled import of products under the free trade agreements (FTA), and by the lack of public policies that help local production, greatly diminished and that represents only about 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

"There are things that are of immediate solution and that has to do with lack of controls in sanitary matters", but "our central point is the Panamanian Food Safety Authority (Aupsa) that is born in a way that avoids the necessary dialogue", said Guevera.

The producers demand that the Aupsa disappear and that a new body in which they take part assume the functions of controlling imports, Guevara told TVN.

However, the Secretary General of the Rice and Grain Federation of Panama, Nodier Díaz, agreed with Guevara that the producers "are open to dialogue" proposed by the Government, provided it is based on specific proposals because they do not want to waste time on unproductive tables.

According to Díaz, the answers to the demands of the sector are in the laws established in the country, and told Telemetro "if they have to be modified, let it be done," but rejected the possibility of continuing to sit at a table with the Government while "imports are coming" excessively.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Protests OverThe State Abandoninig the Agricultural Sector; Calls For Tariff Protection
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Protesting producers block bridges

Farmers scatter maize on the highway
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While a delegation headed to Panama City to confront the cabinet council, Los Santos cattlemen blocked bridges over the La Villa River bridges from 6 am for five and a half hours on Wednesday, August 8.

Edwin Valdés, spokesman of the  Rescate Livestock Movement said that they decided to lift the blockade because: “We are confident that the Executive will give us a positive response to our claims; if not we will resume protest actions,” he said. Valdés did not rule out calling a national strike.

Farmers have been demanding, among other things, that the agricultural sector be declared in a national emergency, and for the elimination of the Panamanian Food Safety Authority.

Meanwhile, Dairy farmers in Chiriqui demonstrated for an hour on the bridge over the Risacua River at the entrance to David

farmerimports-300x169.jpg“Foreign products are being introduced and the national farmer is losing the internal market, “said Víctor Watts,  Chiriqui palm grower, and former president of the region’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture.

Daniel Peterson, of the  Panama Association of   Milk and Livestock Producers  voiced similar concerns.




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Panamanian producers protest once more against imports

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 18:54

Diseño sin título (2).jpg

Dozens of agricultural producers protested today in different parts of Panama and closed several roads to ask the Government to urgently solve the crisis in the sector and reduce the "excessive" food imports.

"Governments do not understand any language other than the closure of streets, we shut down (the streets) on July 29 and we are doing it again because there has been no response. The sector is in crisis, excessive imports are destroying the sector," a farmer from the town of La Villa, 300 kilometers west of the capital, told a local television.

The protests took place early in the morning in the interior provinces of Los Santos, Veraguas, Panama West and Darién, and are expected to spread to other parts of the country throughout the day.

The producers protested that the free trade agreements (FTAs) have resulted in "massive" and "excessive" imports of food.

They also complain about the lack of a long-term State policy, which has caused the gradual deterioration of the countryside, which already represents only 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

"Here milk costs 50 cents (in dollars), first they dropped it to 38 cents and then to 33 cents, I think now they are going to lower it back to 28 cents. This is unsustainable, the numbers just do not add up; the final consumer goes to the supermarkets and prices are through the roof," said the same producer.

The protests began at the end of July and, after establishing a roundtable with the Government, producers abandoned the negotiations on August 3 in the absence of agreement.

The Ministry of Agricultural Development said on Tuesday that Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela will receive the producers onAugust 16 to seek a solution to the conflict.

The agricultural leader Nelson Cedeño said Wednesday that this date is "unacceptable" and that the president has to sit down with the producers "today or tomorrow at the latest."

Producers also demand the disappearance of the Panamanian Food Safety Authority (Aupsa), which is in charge of controlling imports, and the creation of a new institution in which they have a voice.



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Fight Against Agricultural Imports

To calm the spirits of local producers, the Panamanian government has announced the beginning of an audit of the process to import agrifood products, in order to identify companies that are bringing goods in without meeting any of the requirements.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A few days after producers in the country held demonstrations against the allegedly excessive entry of products such as dairy and meat, the government decided to form, together with representatives from the agricultural sector, a discussion table to solve some of the problems. However, this negotiation was abandoned by representatives of the unions.

As a result of this, agricultural producers called for a nationwide demonstration to be held today, and in response the authorities stated that they have already initiated a " ... process of purging and blocking import companies that carry out the activity in an 'irresponsible' way."

Regarding the actions that the government plans to take, the Minister of Agricultural Development, Luis Enrique Carles, explained to Laestrella.com.pa that " ... in the first evaluation which started five days ago, they have already looked at some 100 importing companies, among which 20 or 25 were detected that are working irregularly. 'We are going to block these companies in the coming days, both in the specific issue of meat (products), where we are making the relevant assessments together with the National Customs Authority and the Food Protection Department.'"

In a statement from the Ministry of Agricultural Development (Mida), the Minister of Health, Temistocles Diaz, explained that " ... the responses to the producers are articulated, as are the audits of the Aupsa, communications with the Department of Food Health Protections so that nobody can import if they do not have their registration up to date, a toxicology laboratory, which now has a tender for equipment, and which will allow Panama, within a period of 6 months, to have its own laboratory, among others points on the list which, unfortunately, due to a methodology formula could not be shared'."

See the statement from the Mida. (In Spanish)



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