Government Plans To Import Potatoes To Fill Shortage
Since last week we have been hearing concerns from consumers and farmers that there is a shortage of Irish Potato in the country. This shortage has made way for the importation of potatoes into the country a move that has the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture. During the National Agriculture and Trade Show, we took the opportunity to talk to agriculture officials about the shortage and what will be done in the interim to supply the market. Eugene Waight is the Chief Agricultural Officer.
Eugene Waight; Chief Agricultural Officer
“Since the local production is just about over now, we still have a little bit of local production which is about the tail end of it. We will then start allowing potatoes to be imported whether it is from Mexico or Guatemala. I think the minister already recommended some permits for potatoes to be imported this week. Sometimes because of the little transition period you may have a little shortage there, but hopefully within a week’s time it should stabilize. What I understand is that right now the price internationally is a little bit high; I cannot say why at this moment. We might expect a little increase in the price initially, but that should taper off within the next week or so.”
Oscar Salazar, District Agriculture Coordinator for the Cayo District says that more than one factors contributed to the shortage.
Oscar Salazar; Cayo District Agriculture Coordinator
”The first thing that we need to understand is that there is only a small window for us to plant Irish Potatoes. There is a season for it and we have a lot of losses because of the weather. February is harvest time and the rainy season. Those are the implications and constraints that farmers have out there when it comes to potatoes. Last year seeds of different varieties were imported. We have the red skinned varieties that are being planted here. The other constraint that we have is the storing. We do not have adequate storing. What we try to do as extension officers is to find the best way with our own resources. We have a high demand but farmers need to understand that 130 acres cannot be sold in two months. They are planted in November or December and harvested in mid February until March, which is 130 acres. We expected more than one million pounds would be harvested, so all potatoes are out.”
Love News understands that the new crop season will not start until November this year, meaning that local farmers will not be able to supply the local market until February or March of 2010.