Colom forces Guatemala's farmers to grow basic grains

President Alvaro Colom has stirred controversy in Guatemala by invoking a 1974 law that obliges people with large landholdings to use at least 10 percent of them for the cultivation of basic grains.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sugarcane growers, exporters, business leaders and economic analysts have all said the measure is wrongheaded. But Colom maintained that, though the law had never been invoked for years, "it remains the law of the land and must be obeyed."
The law also states that exports of basic grains must be approved by the Agriculture Ministry, while they may only be imported in times of emergency. Critics of the law say these provisions break Guatemala's international trading agreements.



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Guatemala's Colom abandons plan to force planting of basic grains

June 2008

President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala has abandoned plans to revive a law that obliges farmers to plant basic grains.

The attempt to revive the law caused outcry among farmers and the private sector. Now Colom has admitted the law is an anachronism. "People own their land and it's up to them what they plant on it," he said.

Guatemala's Agriculture Chamber seeks incentives

June 2008

Guatemala's Agriculture Chamber of Commerce suggests that more financial support will provide an incentive to increase production.

Chamber President Carlos Zúñiga met Wednesday with deputies from the Agriculture Commission of Congress.
Zúñiga's proposal was to increase incentives to improve production.

Some still insist on obligatory seeding in Guatemala

June 2008

Some deputies will again propose obligatory seeding of basic grains on large farms that are not using all their land productively.

When the measure to force growing basic grains was defeated 40-74 in parliament last Tuesday, a group headed by Leonel Castañeda, president of the Agriculture Commission, prepared a new bill with a similar aim.

Guatemala presents measures to rein in prices rises

May 2008

Alvaro Colom, the Guatemalan president, announced measures to soften the blow of increases in fuel and food prices.

Colom said the increases had given his government little room for maneuver but he said he would seek accords with industry to keep their prices under control. Producers of vegetable oil, flour and chicken have already agreed to back the measures.

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