29 de Nov de 2022

Nacional

Producers get less, public pays more

PANAMA. For the last year, Panama has suffered from high food prices, while at the same time producers see a cut in their revenues that...

PANAMA. For the last year, Panama has suffered from high food prices, while at the same time producers see a cut in their revenues that is not passed on to consumers.

The National Agricultural Organization (ONAGRO) has been submitting suggestions to the government in order to reduce food prices.

However, as the petitions made are not being heard by the current administration, they have decided to submit their proposals to presidential hopefuls instead.

Last week, ONAGRO called upon presidential candidates to commit themselves to fulfill the organizations’ requests.

First, they ask that producers are helped regardless of their political affiliations.

They also asked to keep government entities from competing with producers; to lower the gas tax; to construct shops with ideal locations for locals enable producers to sell products directly to consumers; and to eliminate the agricultural taxes on the primary market (first sale of products).

ONAGRO’s president, Enrique Athanasiades, sustains that he wants to obtain a real commitment because “we can’t continue with the levels of speculation that have affected the lives of Panamanians.” Athanasiades gave as an example that middlemen have reduced from 66 to 58 cents a pound the price of beef paid to farmers, but in the markets, the prices have increased for consumers.

A similar situation happened with pork, which farmers used to sell at $1.10 a pound back in 2004, while today they only receive between 85 and 90 cents a pound, yet this drastic change has not been passed to consumers.

ONAGRO questions why the current government has not taken measures to protect local producers, and for that matter, consumers too. The price of the basic food basket has increased to $272 and in December food and beverage prices increased 1.4 percent. Inflation in 2008 reached 8.7 percent, more than double the 2007 inflation of 4.2 percent.

Prices of food and beverages, with a 14.9 percent, were the category that experienced the most increase during 2008.

In the midst of this situation ONAGRO announced that this Saturday it would open a new permanent location for the sale of agricultural products, in San Miguelito. It will be the biggest so far.

ONAGRO has 7,000 members, including producers, professionals, and transport members.