The El Niño-provoked drought and the economy has taken its toll on agriculture, but there are signs of recovery.
That was the message a spokesman for the industry brought to the legislature Wednesday.
The spokesman is Juan Rafael Lizano, president of the Cámara Nacional de Agricultura y Agroindustria. The chamber is an umbrella organization associated with many product-specific organizations.
Lizano said that agricultural production is down. But since late last year, the situation appears to be improving. He said that agricultural production is off 1.43 percent for the period January 2013 to last January. He was speaking at session of the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Agropecuarios.
Some specific producers are suffering more than others. He said that normally the country imports about 40 percent of the rice that is consumed. More recently only 40 percent of the rice consumed here is from Costa Rica.
He blamed agricultural policies, available credit and international competition for the reversal. Rice purchases are controlled by a government agency.
In all, basic grains have suffered a 14.5 percent production decline, he said. Overall exports have declined, too, he added.
As a consequence rural poverty has increased, he said, citing statistics that show more than 367,000 rural families, some 27.9 percent of the total, are in poverty.
Also Wednesday a group of 60 agricultural-
related organizations said it would stage a protest Tuesday at Casa Presidencial.
This is the 4-year-old Consejo Agroalimentario. It said it was concerned by the anticipated reduction in customs duties on food imports under the free trade treaty with the United States.
The organization said it wants President Luis Guillermo Solís to stand by his campaign promise not to enter into any more international treaties. It mentioned specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership involving many Pacific Rim countries.
The organization said it also was agitating for action on a proposed law that would strengthen the Consejo Nacional de Producción. The organization also said it opposes foreign boats fishing in national waters and does not want to see a bill to allow shrimp trawling to be passed.