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Potato farmers from the Orange Walk District are hopeful that after a series of meetings with Agriculture officials their concerns about an oversupply of imported potato in the market have been alleviated.


Because of the foreign produce saturating the market, local producers have been unable to sell their potatoes and if they do, it is for a pittance. After CTV-3 News broke the story last week, officials scrambled to deal with the situation and it has led to an agreement. We spoke to Walter Hernandez of the San Carlos Cooperative.


Screen_Shot_2017-02-13_at_8.08.11_PMWalter Hernandez, San Carlos Cooperative


“Tuvimos una junta en Belmopán y hemos hecho un concilio nacional involucrando importadores, campesinos de las papas y cuando se llegue el tiempo de que vamos a empezar a cosechar las papas vamos a reunir ese concilio y hacerles llegar a saber a los importadores y al CEO que nosotros ya estamos listos con nuestras papas para que no tengamos problema que tuvimos este ano, ese concilio va a estar en contacto para que las licencias no se den.”

 

Reporter


“Usted ha visto evidencia que se sigue importando o solo es lo que quedaba de la importación?”


Walter Hernandez, San Carlos Cooperative


“Posiblemente los importadores han estado metiendo papas pero ahorita como ellos ya escucharon estas noticias ellos van a dejar, las papas que hay en el mercado hay blancas todavía, si BAHA o Customs van a recoger esas papas que la gente del mercado no este molesta porque se les advirtió antes y si hay papa en el mercado ahorita va hacer recogida, papa blanca estoy hablando para que nosotros libremente entremos con nuestro producto local que es la papa roja y eso es algo que Customs dijo que van a tomar las cartas en el asunto de inmediatamente y ya no debe de ver ninguna papa blanca para consumir es la papa roja.”


But not all issues are settled. The all-important matter of pricing has not seen common-ground because the suggested price of $75 per pound for wholesale purchases which would translate to a market price of $1.25 has not been accepted by farmers. Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Jose Alpuche, said there is lots of room for dialogue in order to find a price accepted by all.


Screen_Shot_2017-02-13_at_8.08.53_PMCEO Jose Alpuche - Ministry of Agriculture


“The other issues with potatoes has to do with price but potatoes is not a price control commodity but as you heard earlier we trying to act as a facilitator with the producers and the importers and the marketers to ensure that we could get a price that the farmers will accept as you also heard earlier they agreed with that price but when the ladies took it back to the farmers it was rejected so we go back to the drawing board, we do all we can to try to smooth out the rough edges and to try to create that balance required for the farmers and for the consumers in the country.”

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