Venezuela: Potato growers scammed

According to Emmanuel Escalona, director of Fenaphort in Trujillo state, Venezuela's National Federation of Potato and Vegetable Producers (Fenaphort) denounced on Tuesday the partial breach of the contract to import potato seeds from Canada, a breach that would affect more than 7,000 potato farmers in the Andean states (Mérida, Táchira, Trujillo) as they would be unable to plant 10,000 hectares of this tuber in the country.

Escalona also stated that President Nicolas Maduro had to be informed about this great scam against the country's potato farmers.

The union leader stated that, in August 2015, Agropatria had signed a contract in the amount of $8,650,000 dollars with the Di Jennkin Inghans Asociett company for the import of 9,000 tons of seed. Said company was given a 40% advance (i.e. $3,273,000 dollars) for the release of the first shipment of 3,700 tons of seeds for Carabobo, Aragua, Lara and, in a very small portion, the Andes.

Afterwards, the Venezuelan government transferred $2,924,000 dollars to the company, thus having cancelled a total of $6,386,000 dollars or 70% the total contract.

The director of Fenaphort said Agropatria had complied with the payment specifications established in the contract, and that the remaining 30% would be cancelled once the second shipment of seeds arrived to the docks of Puerto Cabello.

"But to the surprise of producers, we have been informed by the Potato Board (Canada's Potato Seed Trade Association) that there won't be a second shipment because the importer (Di Jennkin Inghans Asociett) stated it didn't buy the rest of the seed, which was already inspected and certified, at the place of origin," revealed Escalona.

In this regard, he said, the producers from Quibor, in the state of Lara, have been deceived on several occasions by officials from the Ministry for Agriculture and Lands.

"Back then we were told that the potato seeds would be arriving before February 15th. If this was really a scam, more than 7,000 potato farmers in the Andean states (Mérida, Tachira, Trujillo) and more than 1,500 producers from the Lara state would be left adrift. The country wouldn't plant more than 10,000 hectares of potatoes, so there will be a shortage of this product and prices will increase. All because there is a lack of serious stimulation of potato crops," said the leader.

In light of this situation, the organization will take decisive actions within the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and will appoint a committee of producers who will be the guarantors of the complaint formally brought before the SEBIN (Bolivarian Intelligence Service).


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