President Oscar Arias’ administration has pledged to spend $88.4 million to boost local grain production and help the poor with their groceries.
The money will fund credit, insurance and technical help for farmers, as well as cash transfers for students and poor people.
In Costa Rica, the price of the basic food basket – a measure of 10 items, such as rice, beans, eggs and vegetables – rose 13.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008.
The administration said it will spend $36 million to help poor people cover those costs.
The money provides payments to as many as 42,300 families with children in rural elementary schools that have just one teacher.
Some 16,000 poor families with children under 12 will receive a monthly check of $100 on average. Poor elementary school students will now receive a monthly cash transfer that formerly went only to high schoolers.
The state will also invest in development and nutrition centers throughout the country, which give food and provide day care services to children and pregnant mothers.
The plan’s remaining $52.4 million will help bean, rice and white corn farmers substantially increase production, said.
Agriculture Minister Javier Flores. He wants Costa Rica to produce 80 percent of the rice it consumes within two years, up from about 50 percent today.Within three years, he said, Tico farmers should be growing 70 percent of the beans and white corn eaten here, up from 25 percent today.
Finance Minister Guillermo Zúñiga said he would ask the Legislative Assembly to approve $35 million in new funds for the plan. State banks and institutions will put up the remaining $53.4 million.