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Flooding of the Penonome river

Panama: Over $90,000 dollars in watermelon and onion losses

Producers of watermelons and onions in Rio Grande and Cerro Zuela in Penonome, said they had suffered losses of more than 90 thousand dollars after the Penonome river overflowed and flooded their crops.

The watermelon category had the biggest losses in nearly 15 hectares for export, while some three hectares of onions were affected. Producers have asked the Government for support.

Producers say that, even though it's summer, the rainwater in northern Cocle caused the river to overflow and they lost their watermelon crops, nearly 8 days before the harvest.

Omar Gonzalez, a producer of watermelons in Rio Grande, said that they lost 15 hectares of watermelons. Each hectare costs six thousand dollars, so they lost more than 90 thousand dollars. He also said they were worried because these watermelons would be sent overseas as part of export contracts.

"It rained in northern Cocle, which caused the Rio Grande to flood and damage our watermelon crops. Unfortunately we have debts with foreign financiers and we must pay them. We also have customers waiting for our product and now we have an additional financial cost that we must cover," he said.

He said that he and his family worked in the Agro Tropical Sostenible company, which they created with hard work and foreign support, which is why they are concerned about the debts these losses have created for them.

Meanwhile, Aura Real, the regional director of the Ministry of Agricultural Development in Cocle, said the agency's staff from Penonome and Nata were inspecting the sites and talking with the Agricultural Insurance Institute (ISA) and the Bank for Agricultural Development (BDA) to give support to the producers affected by the flood.

"The floods Started on Wednesday night and they damaged one hectare of onions and 15 thousand hectares of watermelon. We spoke with the ISA and some hectares are insured. We are talking to the producers of the remaining hectares to support them with soft loans, as stated by law 24, which provides support for producers in case of an emergency," she said.


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