The crisis faced by tomato producers in the province of Chiriqui intensified as they had to stop harvesting and throw out about 60% of their crop because they are being affected by imports and a lack of markets.
Farmers have had to use wheelbarrows to throw away their tomatoes at the road-side because there are no markets and the product must be taken off the field to continue harvesting the plants.
Jaime Gonzalez, a tomato producer from Volcan, said tomato prices in the field do not exceed 0.07 or 0.10 cents per pound because of tomato imports and an excess in production. This prices are not enough to cover production costs, which stand at 0.20 and 0.25 cents per pound.
Producers have had to get rid of a lot of tomatoes.
Ameth Lezcano, of the Renaissance Producers Association, said the tomato producers were losing more than $18.5 million dollars, not including the money they need to stay in the market and not lose their farms.
He said some 600 tomato producers were going through their roughest patch ever because imports were still coming from Mexico, the United States and other regions of the world and the government didn't care.
Juan Gallardo, another tomato producer, said the crisis was the result of the government's lack of policies to determine the appropriate date for imports and also because there were no inventories of their production.