Here in the heart of the Azuero, Panama’s “bread basket,” it takes little effort to find a farm, or food. In fact, farmers often drive up and down the streets of their pueblos, announcing produce for sale from the backs of their trucks. But the price of food is rising, and it’s not just because there is a water shortage.
I had heard small farmers are being trapped by “Big Ag” companies which only allow the sale of seed that produces sterile plants. That way, farmers cannot save seed from year to year and reduce the cost of production. I ran an experiment to test this purely by accident. Some melon seed volunteered in my front garden, and as it was green, I watered it and just let it grow. The resulting vine set perhaps 50 melons! But… not one of them was bigger than a golf ball. All were totally inedible. Here is one of those photos worth a thousand descriptive words:
And an article from PanamaAmerica.com (translation by Google Translate) follows:
Cost of agrochemicals money crop takes the harvest
Having committed the income from the sale of the harvest, even before receiving payment, it is the daily life of farmers …
Fertilizer and pesticides are necessary for all productions.
Andrea Gimenez (email@example.com) | @DreaStef
Having committed the income from the sale of the harvest, even before receiving payment, it is the day of Panamanian farmers, who claim that it is increasingly expensive to produce.
55% of the investment required to produce any food category consists of agrochemicals such as fertilizer, manure and pesticides, which, according to producers, continue to increase cost.
However, the State, through its figures for the Authority for Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (Acodeco), ensures that the necessary inputs for agricultural production are down, even up to 30% in some cases.
Rogelio Cruz, Highlands producer, reported that currently houses agrochemicals finance up to 60% of what they sell to farmers, who then pay them to sell the crop.
This funding is usually accompanied by an interest of 2%, so that producers are forced to pay much more for production inputs reflect what Acodeco prices, Cruz said.
Additionally, the producer said that at times, producers have lost harvest has not been as profitable as it has not been considered or cancel funding, so even jeopardize the income of the next harvest, which accumulate two accounts.
“Today, the true financier of the country’s agricultural sector are the houses of agrochemicals, beyond the banks and the state,” said Cruz.
Meanwhile, the producer of corn Valentine Dominguez acknowledged that some prices have had a slight decline could benefit, however, the change has not been much.
According to the Acodeco, the price of some fertilizers and manure has decreased, but domestic producers say that when we talk about these losses, only taking into account the “more bad marks” on the domestic market.
Currently, a sack of fertilizer quality, according to experts, is priced around $ 40.
However, in the few moments when commodity prices fall, producers can not use them because “the cost of store would be too high.”
Rogelio Cruz explains that if they buy large quantities of product to be stored for subsequent crops, they would have run with their money and with 2% monthly interest for financing a product they have not yet used.
Gerardo Ruiz, an expert in agricultural production, the solution is to look for alternate products or invest in the payment of financing products at the time these diminish so do not compromise the effective return of the crops and do not create debt.
However, for small producers this is impossible because, according says producer Abel Chavez, do not have capital available for this.