Protest ends next day

Peruvian potato farmers protest sharp drop in prices

On Tuesday January 9, potato farmers in several regions of Peru began a 72-hour strike to demand emergency measures in the sector and to protest the falling potato prices. Roads were blocked by protesters in the central and southern Andes, in Junin, Pasco, Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Huanuco.

Farmers blamed the sharp drop in potato prices on the import of pre-cooked potatoes, supplied to restaurants and the fast-food franchises. The average price of locally-grown potatoes is currently at 0.10 Peruvian Sol (3 eurocents) per kilo, against prices even last year of around 0.80 PEN (24 eurocents) /kg.

“The imported pre-cooked potatoes come in at 0.70 PEN per kilo, and they’re brought by huge companies from Holland,” said the president of the Cunas Basin farmers in Chupaca, Junin.

But the real cause for the drop in prices is an overproduction in 2017, according to Juan Manuel Benites, minister of Agriculture in the final two years of the Humala administration (2014-2016). He claimed the government had failed to share production trend information with farmers.

Late Wednesday evening the Peruvian Times learned that the Ministry of Agriculture and the farmers had reached an agreement on several demands, following a “fruitful dialogue.”

The announcement was made by President Kuczynski, a first success achieved by his new Agriculture minister, Jose Arista, and welcome news to the President who has faced two weeks of heavy criticism and difficult choices for the new cabinet, sworn in yesterday.

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