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Venezuela: Potato producers declare emergency

In the absence of data on the annual purchase of potato seeds from Canadian suppliers, the Potato Growers Associations of Venezuela declared an emergency as of yesterday. 

They said they didn't know if the government had signed a contract with foreign companies to acquire the seed, and if they had, for what quantity, quality, with what company or when the seeds would arrive in Venezuela. 

"We have no time, we must have the seed in Venezuela by November 15 to 20 to start the first planting season," said the director of Venezuela's National Potato Producers Federation, Aldemaro Ortega Pinto, who stated that the guild travelled to Canada every year in the first two weeks of October to negotiate with the Potato Board. 

Ortega Pinto said the producers would remain in session to analyse the market situation, because states like Carabobo don't have provisions, unlike Lara and Merida where farmers keep potatoes to plant. 

On October 8, the union met with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land to reach an agreement on what to buy; however, they still haven't received a reply, said the representative of the Federation. 

"We understand that the past administration hasn't explained the buying process and who it is usually done with, to the incoming management," he said. 

Ortega Pinto also stated that the Petrochemical Corporation from Venezuela SA (Pequiven) had complied with the delivery of fertilizers. 

The lack of inputs in Carabobo would affect 1,200 direct jobs and at least 3,500 indirect ones. The harvest of the tuber in Carabobo starts between March and April. 

The Potato Growers Associations of Venezuelans have been purchasing their seeds from the Potato Board for the last 70 years. 

There are three types of seed in play: domestic potato (for fresh consumption), yellow potatoes (which is grown in the Andes) and the Atlantic variety, which is for industrial use. The delay in the acquisition would also stop the two production cycles in 2015, especially in Aragua and Carabobo, where the first planting season is about to start. 

A total of 500 producers make up the Federation between Carabobo, Aragua and Lara. There are 12,000 hectares of potatoes throughout the country. 

"The representatives of the Potato Board expressed their concern throughout the weekend because, up to date, there is no agreement or purchase intent," stated Ortega Pinto. 

Producers have warned the Government that the non-payment of the seed bought from the Potato Board in 2013 could also affect new negotiations, which would affect the supply of potatoes and their prices for the final consumer, as there would be no way to reduce production costs. 

Source: Agrenpapa
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