According to potato producers and importers, potato consumption has decreased due to the migration wave, the closing of restaurants, and the reduction of the restaurants working hour.
Importers don’t plan to import more potatoes for the rest of the year. “Consumption has drastically fallen because there are no more tourists visiting the country. There are thousands of people emigrating, it is a general effect,” said Pedro Lopez, one of the main importers of potatoes and onions from the El Mayoreo market.
The national potato harvest started in the first week of August and, according to Bismark Meza, the president of the National Potato Commission, there is enough product to supply the local demand.
To date, a quintal of potatoes costs between C $1,200 and C $1,400 in the El Mayoreo market, and a pound stands at C $11 to C $14.
“Now we are planting potatoes in the area of Miraflores, that helps us increase potato production in the winter season… I think that, due to the country’s situation, the merchants have asked for import permits this year,” said Meza.
According to the 2017-2018 Production, Consumption, and Trade Plan, the country is expected to produce 930,000 quintals of potatoes, thus surpassing the 880,100 quintals of potatoes produced in the 2016-2017 cycle.
According to Meza, the official data on the production and consumption of this product are very inflated.
“We must be very careful because they estimate consumption is above 90 thousand quintals per month and we believe that it stands at about 60 thousand quintals. The government would make the mistake of granting import permits for 30 thousand quintals, which would leave the national price of the potato on the ground,” said Meza.
According to official data, consumption in the last cycle stood at 68,283 quintals per month, and they project this year it will grow by 7.5% to 73,383 quintals per month.
Meza asked the corresponding authorities to update the data, “they shouldn’t make those mistakes because it affects the producers who work every day to harvest.”