Agricultural chamber president says the sector is in chaos

The government needs to take action to reactivate agriculture, said Juan Rafael Lizano, president of the Cámara Nacional de Agricultura y Agroindustria.

In an opinion piece supplied to A.M. Costa Rica he said that the agriculture sector was in chaos and noted that pineapple production was down 7.7 percent and banana production was down 12.4 percent.

He blamed a combination of climate, politics and competition that has caused a strong contraction in the agricultural industry which he said gives signs of accelerating.

A monthly index of agriculture had declined 7.75 percent over the last 17 months, he said

Farmers and ranchers here pay 21 percent higher prices for diesel fuel in comparison with the rest of Central America, and the salaries paid to workers are the second highest, he noted. With social charges, the basic agricultural salary is $634 a month, he added.

In addition, credit for agricultural purposes had declined from 10.6 percent in 1997 to the current 3.2 percent, he said citing Banco Central figures.

Agriculture is a major force against poverty, he said, noting that rural unemployment is growing.

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