On Wednesday, May 5, onion producers from Nata, in the province of Cocle, blocked the Pan-American highway for approximately three hours to demand that the country's agricultural authorities purchase their products.
The producers threw quintals of onion on the road to protest and stated that the National Government had promised to buy their production, which is currently starting to rot generating economic losses.
The director of the Agricultural Insurance Institute (ISA), Abad Barrios, said that they were analyzing the case of all the onion growers in the area. “We are aware that the onions in Capellania, in the surrounding areas of El Caño, and in some other places are being affected. We are going to continue supervising the situation,” he said.
In parallel to these demonstrations, the National Government issued a statement assuring that it supports onion and banana producers through entities of the agricultural sector. They said that the producers of the province of Cocle had delivered more than 16,600 quintals of onions as part of the National Government's commitment to buy the products that are in good condition for the Panama Solidario plan. The vegetables have been received since April 8 at the headquarters of the Agricultural Marketing Institute (IMA) of Cocle. General director Carlos Motta has been present on several occasions to supervise their reception and distribution, they added.
"The government decided to purchase the producers' onions after the onion crops belonging to small farmers in the province were affected by the rains in this region in April. The production that was purchased has been transferred to the provinces of Los Santos, Herrera, Veraguas, and Cocle by the respective regional directorates of the IMA," said Fernando Herrera, the director of the IMA in Cocle.
The protest led to a negotiation between producers and the National Government. Today, the protesters will meet with the Vice Minister of Agricultural Development to search for a prompt solution.