Lidia Mamani reports for La Prensa:
Bolivian rice loses markets
The cause is the lack of development of a better quality product for export.
He explained that the two international markets demand rice of first quality, extra-long integers, as the Mac-18 (seed tolerant to major diseases with an additional plus with high content of iron and zinc) which was released by the program of the Santa Cruz Tropical Center for Agricultural Research (CIAT), in 2008.
“We have complications with planting, because the quality of the rice we produce is not what they demand”. We have the Golden grain, but we can not grow in large volumes in order to fulfill the orders we have. “That makes the potential countries in production of rice such as Argentina, Uruguay and Peru, to capture our markets.”
He mentioned that some time ago there was a great variety in grains of rice (long, medium and short), same that were not grown in large quantities for lack of support.
ConArroz brings together three producing organizations: the Cooperativa Agropecuaria Integral San Juan of Yapacaní (Caisy); the Association of producers of rice (Aspar), and the National Federation of rice cooperatives (Fenca).
The prohibition. On the other hand, Perez said that the release of the exports made by the Government in March this year, was untimely, since international prices fell (as in Peru), which caused that in the country there is an overproduction of grain. [which will lead to future shortages, as producers will do something else, given current governmental uncertainty, with higher, unpredictable consequences given the new ‘mother earth’ law that bans transgenic production in Bolivia… for ALL agricultural production!!??]
The drop in prices, said, caused the disincentive in some producers, who preferred to look towards other products, such as soy, which has good performance and even better prices in foreign markets.
In 2009, the Government Decree restricted sales of rice in order to ensure the supply of the domestic market.
In March of this year, Regulation 1163 stipulates the release of export of up to 50,000 tons of grain, which sets quotas for paddy rice; broken rice; husked rice and semi-milled or bleached rice.
Sowing. Perez reported that 170,000 hectares, a good amount which means 400,000 tons harvested were planted for the summer campaign (2011-2012). The annual consumption of grain in the country is more than 330,000 tons.
For his part, the President of Fenca, Gonzalo Vásquez, confirmed the growth of rice production, compared to produced five years ago (2007).
“Every year increases production because there are better irrigation and more technology.” “However, this was not enough for the Government to lift restrictions on exports, which lasted for two years”.
Vasquez also lamented the fact that he has not been able to export Bolivian rice by quality problems. “It is not that it is bad, but that we have recently developed the type of variety that is required by these countries (Brazil and Chile)”.
The production of Mac-18 rice, emphasized, will bring better revenue for the sector, since the bushel costs between $40-45; while Carolina varieties or peg [estaquilla], the ones which are more produced, prices are between 20 and 25 dollars.
Fenca producers managed to sow 133 hectares [has.]. The amount was much better than the previous years that came to 10,000 has.
The company’s support for the production of food (emapa) collected, during the agricultural campaign summer 2011-2012, approximately 225,000 bushels of rice, which represents about 40,000 tons. In that campaign, public company [emapa] supported 31 associations of Santa Cruz and Beni, with agricultural inputs to zero percent interest and no mortgage, which benefited 568 productive families, according to a report by the state-owned company.
Bolivian government needs to rethink its agricultural policy.