Rice growers prevail in government parley

The central government has agreed to guarantee the 2011 rice harvest at 22,604.31 colons per each 73.6 kilogram sack. That’s about $45.10 per sack.

That was the outcome of a meeting Tuesday afternoon and evening between rice growers and the minister of the Presidencia, Carlos Ricardo Benavides.

That was basically the deal the rice growers proposed. The price of rice is wrapped up in a number of complexities. The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio fixed the floor price of rice last year at 20,050 colons per 73.6 kilogram sack. That’s about $40.10. But rice growers challenged that in court and the price never went into effect.

Instead the court established a temporary price of 22,604.41 colons. Because of the new price, growers and the government agree that more land was put into production.

At the same time international producers found they could compete successfully with Coast Rica growers even when they have to pay customs duties. The government controls both the floor price producers are paid and the price the end consumer pays at the store.

Another part of the agreement Tuesday night was that the government and the producers will set up a commission to come up with an alternate measure to fix a price that producers will get for their crop. The government has to tread lightly because international agreements and the World Trade Organization limit the subsidies that agricultural producers can get.

The average Costa Rican eats about 50 kilos of rice every year, according to international estimates.

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