Gov’t to Import U.S. Beans To Lower Local Prices

November 16, 2007

MANAGUA – The government announced Nov. 8 that it will buy 3,000 tons of red beans from the United States to lower the price for the product in the domestic market, where beans are selling for up to $1.22 per pound – more than double the normal price.

Ariel Bucardo, who heads the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAGFOR), said that Managua will buy the beans in the United States “to guarantee sufficient supply” in the domestic market and to “make an impact on lowering prices.”

He said that the government also will buy beans from local producers at a “fair price” and would stockpile them in the silos of the state-owned Nicaragua Basic Food Business (ENABAS), to have a “sufficient reserve to supply the internal market.”

Critics of the government have argued that the administration is not playing a great enough role in the market to regulate food prices on basic items such as beans, allowing prices to soar to nearly double the normal average (NT, Nov. 2).

President Daniel Ortega said that the ENABAS silos have the capacity to store 100 times the quantity of beans to be purchased, adding that the measure is intended to eliminate price speculation for the staple product.

“Those who are speculating whether there will be that product (available in the future) are going to have to sell at a much lower price,” he said, referring to sellers who were hoarding beans in anticipation of continued rising prices due to crop shortages.

“We’re going to fight (the hoarders) with their own weapon. They’re challenging us, and so the doors will not remain open any longer” to the international market for them, he added.

Ortega said that local producers would be offered a “fair price,” which he did not specify, so that they would not sell their product abroad and would not go bankrupt.

Bucardo, meanwhile, said that a private Nicaraguan firm will also import beans from the United States.

To help alleviate the food-price crisis, Taiwan announced it will donate 5,300 tons of rice to Nicaragua. Bucardo said that the first 300 tons will arrive Nov. 19 and “later, 5,000 more tons will arrive.”

He noted that the Taiwanese donation is intended to support the Nicaraguan families affected by Hurricane Felix and the intense rains that fell for 52 days in the Central American country.

“With that, we’re guaranteeing the supply of basic grain foods, mainly gallo pinto (beans mixed with rice), for Nicaraguans,” Bucardo said.

The Nicaraguan government has proposed lowering the price of a pound of beans from $1.22 to $0.42 over the next two months.

 

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