Farmers Demand Government Assistance

May 21, 2004

THE Costa Rican Agronomists’Association is asking the government takeurgent measures to save the country’sagricultural sector from a potential crisisthat could wipe out many farmers.Association president Eugenio Porrasblamed the impending crisis on the lackof an adequate national development planfor agriculture, the daily Al Día reported.Rodolfo Coto, Minister of Agriculture,said the government needs to take immediateaction. He assured farmers he wouldpresent President Abel Pacheco with aplan containing clear policies for the sectorby the end of this month.The policies he will propose aim tohelp farmers prepare for the new challengesthey would face under the proposedCentral American Free-Trade Agreement(CAFTA) with the United States.Coto promised concrete actions wouldbe taken to assist the country’s strugglingbean growers. Although he rejected theidea of subsidizing beans, Coto said thegovernment would offer bean growerstechnical assistance and seeds, amongother things.During the last decade, Costa Ricanbean production has dropped by more thantwo-thirds. Last year, the country produced9,000 tons of beans, compared to 34,000tons in 1994. Local producers are able tosupply only 23% of the 40,000 tons ofbeans Costa Ricans consume each year.A further drop is expected this year.Heavy rains in the Northern Zone havealready destroyed 3,900 tons of beans,according to agriculture officials.

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