This week will be definitions, especially for rice producers. The Ministry of Agriculture will define the support price of the grass, before the winter harvest, which starts in three weeks. The contributions received in the Consultative Council will be taken into account. The work of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) is already reflected in the country’s rice sector. The meetings of its owner, Rubén Flores, allowed to lower the tensions between the actors of the productive chain, on the threshold of the winter harvest.
What decisions were made in the Rice Advisory Council?
We have presented three price scenarios, we saw how important it is to take into account the international price, but above all, we had the need to discuss and make transparent not only price, but the margins at producer, industry and merchant level. This has been important, above all, to consolidate the road map of the sector to have absolutely objective and non-political prices, and from that perspective we propose three scenarios that range from $ 32 to $ 35.50, which is the minimum support price. The idea is to maintain the value of sustentation, but we see that it is necessary to consolidate a band that allows to articulate that price as a base.
The producers propose maintaining the $ 35.50
That is the proposal of the Council as such, and the MAG, on that basis, will analyze the scenarios presented today (Thursday). The arguments we have about profitability, the issue of a serious job of lowering production costs, the control of prices of inputs, is a proposal regarding a marketing strategy by the National Storage Unit (UNA EP). What we have marked is that, thinking that in three weeks the harvest begins, we will define next week the minimum support price and the elements that will be part of that exercise.
The industrialists propose that the price of rice be categorized
The industrialists presented a proposal based on the quality of the grain. I think it is important because this issue is fundamental if we want to survive in the future and what we want to do is prepare ourselves for that work because guaranteeing quality requires a process from soil preparation to harvest.
We have that reference of the industrialists, which is important to adapt prices to international reality. Finally, we have to work on how to reduce production costs, how we increase productivity, how we consolidate an efficient marketing mechanism and how we can make the chain and the national agri-food system of rice become a winner seeing that it is already surplus.
When would the document be ready to formalize the price of paddy rice?
We are going to define this ministerial agreement after having, at the request of the producers, the marketing plan that the UNA EP should present. The entity announced that it has the plan ready, it will surely be delivered on Tuesday of next week.
That plan will have to be discussed, understood and, above all, it will have to respond to the challenges that come in the next few days, so as soon as we have that marketing plan we will also agree on the price so as not to create false expectations.
How to lower production costs?
We have reviewed the production costs. In the structure they are lowered with two fundamental elements. The weight of the inputs in rice production is 40% of the cost, so we have to attack the issue of inputs. Another relative weight, which is important, has to do with the value of the seed. The way to solve this is for our rice growers to be associated, have strong guilds, have the capacity to have a purchasing power in volume; buying two quintals of rice for two or three blocks is not the same as buying 10,000 quintals of seed. Corn farmers also have expectations for the price
How does that issue progress?
In the same way as rice, acting with absolute responsibility. We had a meeting with the maiceros, with the industry and the poultry farmers. We will have a technical table next week and an advisory board. Depending on what the internal regulations say, it must be respected in order to guarantee decision-making in corn.
What is the reality of the bio-input plant that rises in Quevedo?
This issue is directly linked to an audit problem that the Comptroller has sent. We await the results of that exercise. We have a negotiation with the Government of Cuba to guarantee the process of completion of the work, whose physical progress is between 83% – 85%, but the content is what interests me and the content is a substantial change of this conventional agriculture and give an alternative of bio-inputs to the country.
How would it impact the agriculture?
The market increasingly demands cleaner, healthier products and that is the challenge that Ecuadorian agriculture has to face and, above all, the agriculture of our farmers. Water in agriculture is an essential factor, how is the issue of correctoría? As a competition we have an interministerial agreement where we define the roles.
The role of the Ministry of Agriculture is that of water technification, governing policy, planning. The subject of the balance analysis, supply and demand of water from each territory, is a responsibility of Senagua, and the quality of the water has to do with a responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment. We are waiting for a plain and simple definition of Senplades to articulate these competences well in the operative part that will surely be given Monday or Tuesday (today or tomorrow).
Is there a possibility of making a new agricultural census?
We made a letter to whoever is responsible for this process, which is the INEC (National Institute of Statistics and Census); we asked him as a Ministry of Agriculture to carry out a census, they answered that we must consolidate the resources to do it. So we are with the technical groups, with the support of FAO, consolidating the strategy. My goal is to conduct the census in 2020 as a key element to have an important effort and more reliable data. (I)