Telemetro.com, July 25th 2019
During a business forum on Wednesday, businessmen recommended investing in the modernization of agriculture in Panama, as the most viable way to strengthen this decayed sector that years ago carries a contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that does not reach 3%.
This issue, along with the Public-Private Partnerships to boost growth, was discussed in a colloquium held within the framework of the First Business Summit, organized by the National Council of Private Enterprise of Panama (CONEP).
In the talk it was highlighted, among other points, that the reactivation of the field, which during the previous Administration generated violent manifestations of agricultural producers in rejection of excessive imports, goes through giving a good application to the incentive policy for this sector.
The businessman Alan Winstead said that it is essential to start with a technical school education as a base, that teaches to manage the field with technology, as well as to take the incentives towards “the modernization of agriculture”.
Winstead, an innovative farmer and president of Simply Natural Farms, an organic fruit nursery located in the central province of Coclé and considered the largest in Central America, said it must also be invested in creating the right human resources to work on highly technological fields.
“The incentive policy should be aimed for producers to adopt technology and helping them to be competitive, gearing incentive policies towards the modernization of agriculture,” he affirmed.
In that same context, Winstead stressed that in their Simply Natural Farms project they have managed to bring fruit growing to 20,000 productive hectares of fruit “with knowledge and technology”, which is exported to the international market since the local market is small.
However, Winstead said that although Panama does not have a large market, it does have an advantage that is a logistics platform that benefits exports.
Other entrepreneurs who participated in the colloquium, linked to sustainable milk production and rice, agreed that the lack of technification in agriculture is another limitation to increase productivity.
Panamanian Vice Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Rognoni, said that the Government, through the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA) “is here to push” and reactivate agriculture, for which, he said, you can count on Public-Private Partnerships (APP), a topic addressed in the forum.
“What we will try to do at MIDA is to hinder as few times as possible, so it is up to you (as a private company) to have our support in technology,” said Rognoni.
Rognoni told Efe that the Government presiding over President Laurentino Cortizo, who took office last July 1, is involved in the reactivation of agriculture and works on a 20-year long-term policy.
“What we want is to strengthen the livestock sector, agriculture and agribusiness,” said Rognoni.
Cortizo’s idea of reviving the economy contemplates giving impetus to the countryside, the construction sector and public-private partnerships, the latter, as stated in the forum, which in infrastructure works (roads) are longer than in the short term and can take 3 to 5 years.
Eloy Fisher, general secretary of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), said at the forum that with the PPPs, the risks of the state are minimized to give space to the private sector.
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