Panama Will Need to Import More Rice in 2012

Domestic production from this agricultural cycle will leave a shortfall of 9,000 hectares.

Friday, November 11, 2011

While the Panamanian rice sector has never been able to satisfy domestic demand, in this cycle it will be even more dependent on imports. In 2010, 64,400 hectares were planted and 1.2 million bushels of grain had to be imported, while at present only 57,456 have been planted, falling far short of the projected target of 68,000.

Alexander Arauz, of the Chiriqui Rice Growers Association, said yields have fallen below 100 bushels per hectare as a result of the excessive rainfall, so that the current crop would only amount to around 5.6 million bushels. Since the country consumes about 7.5 million bushels, the import volume would come close to 2 million bushels, similar to the cycle of 2009.

In addition to the fall in yields, rice farmers have had to deal with increases in production costs and lower selling prices, making it a less profitable activity.

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