Refrigeration chain for cheaper food
PANAMA. The establishment of a better a way to preserve and distribute products by an efficient refrigeration process was one of the pr...
PANAMA. The establishment of a better a way to preserve and distribute products by an efficient refrigeration process was one of the promises that President Ricardo Martinelli made to the farmers during the electoral campaign.
After less that a week in power, some are doubting the viability of his ambitious project, but for others it is perfectly clear.
What it is certain is that the project is already underway and on July 3 a presidential decree was published in the Official Gazette creating the Refrigeration Chain Secretariat, that will be part of the Agricultural Development Ministry.
The Highlands Farmers Association president, Virgilio Saldaña said the government not onlyhas to build refrigeration stations across the country, but also will need to have adequate coordination among all the people involved in the production activity, including at what times of the year the different crops should be planted and harvested.
Saldaña said that the flash freeze chain cannot be interrupted, because otherwise the intended results will be obtained and the process should start in the production area.
It is estimated that between 10 and 30 percent of the products are spoiled every year due to bad handling and lack of refrigeration.
Governmental authorities said that between the next two days the appointment of the Refrigeration Chain Secretary will be made and he will have to write a proposal that has to be fulfilled during the first 100 days of government.
Saldaña said that he is not against the project “but the panorama is not clear,” especially with regards to the the cost of the service and the authorities should give details about the project and listen to the concerns of the producers.
The Secretariat will have an advisory committee presided by the Agricultural Development Ministry and other five members designated by the Executive.
A government announcement said that refrigeration system will benefit producers, intermediaries and consumers alike.
However, Pedro Acosta, president of the Republic of Panama Consumers Union UNCUREPA, said that he has a different vision and the only ones who are going to benefit are the refrigeration equipment vendors.
Acosta thinks that the construction of a refrigeration chain is not a priority at the moment and those resources should be directed to improve production, give farmers certified seeds and financing to guarantee food production.
He added that more than likely the consumers are going to pay for the new system.
However, the Agriculture Development Ministry, said that the system will benefit everybody, because currently the losses in produces experienced by the farmers for not having a refrigeration chain are passed to the consumers.
The export sector feels that it will also collect a reward from this system as produce will be fresher and will offer more appeal more to European and Asian markets.
One of President Ricardo Martinelli promises was to reduce the cost of the basic food basket and the Refrigeration Secretariat is one of the ways he has chosen to begin to accomplish that task.
Another is to have more food markets in different parts of the country.