Panama: National Rice vs. Imported Rice

The disadvantage in terms of productivity and prices of Panamanian rice farmers against major world producers, has trapped producers, many of whom are abandoning the crop.

Friday, April 12, 2013

If this problem is not resolved, consequences will start to be felt. The country could stop planting about 20,000 hectares, said sources close to the sector.

The leader of the Rice Growers Association of Chiriqui (Apach), Carlos Santanach, said there are issues to be further discussed with the government such as financing, the use of irrigation, the rearrangement of imports and the adequacy of land.

The greatest concern is that last year 1.4 million quintals of rice was imported. Consequently, the mills were saturated and domestic rice prices fell to the ground, and although all of the production was sold, the costs had not been factored in.

"We should be selling paddy at between $24 and $25 per quintal, but instead we received between $21 and $22 and those that traded above $25 were few and far between" explained the producer.

Oscar Osorio, chief of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA) said that imports are not made by the government, but through Baisa and on the basis of performance requirements.

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Panama Still Not Decided On Rice Imports

September 2013

It will not be until February next year that there will be a discussion on import quotas, when a new inventory will be compiled.

Prices, climate issues and lack of funding will results in failure to achieve the goal of planting 67,000 hectares of rice in the current crop.

Rice Subsidies in Panama

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The government is considering indirect forms of subsidy such as rewards for farmers with increased production or improved productivity, in order to avoid the impact on the population of an increase in grain prices.

The rising price of rice in global markets is directly affecting Panama, which annually consumes 8.5 million quintals, of which it must import about 3 million, in order to supplement local production which reaches approximately 5.5 million quintals.

Panama Allows Rice Import

March 2012

The country will import 1.3 million quintals in order to compensate for current low crop yields.

The import of an initial quota of 1.3 million quintals of rice to meet domestic demand, was approved by the Agri-Food Rice Chain, which is a body composed by producers, millers, traders, consumers and agricultural authorities.

Rice Production and Prices in Panama

May 2009

Local production of the grain is increasing and approaching self-sufficiency figures, while prices are stable.

The cost of supplies has fallen considerably (50%), which enables an increase in planted area and it could exceed 70 thousand hectares, with yields in excess of 100 thousand quintals per hectare in 2009. In this manner, there would be enough production to achieve self-sufficiency.