Grains for Honduras

President Jose Manuel Zelaya has launched the Plan for Supply of Basic Grains and the Technological Productive Bond (BTP), in order to produce enough basic grains this year to feed the population of 7.3 million people. There will be provision of some basic inputs in terms of agricultural credit at low interest rates (lowered from 24% to 9%), seeds, technology, etc.

“We have to support these reforms so the nation can once again become the granary of Central America,” he said, referring to Honduras’s past status as a key regional food producer.

There are measures to increase cereals output, including rice. The National Agriculture Development Bank (Banadesa) will aid smaller producers to grow the crops, for which a special fund of 1.2 billion lempiras has been created. Rice production was wiped out in Honduras, beginning in 1990, when, as Zelaya said,
“someone had the bright idea that it would be easier to bring rice from the U.S. than produce it in Honduras.” And then, he said, “Somebody said, ‘why don’t you give me that import business?’,
and it was at that point that three or four shiploads of rice were dumped on Honduran producers, which drove them into bankruptcy.”

Now, under the new plan, rice-growing and other capacity is to be reinstated.

In particular, it was the terms of a 1990 World Bank loan, that dictated Honduras must open itself up to imports of food, when its consumption needs at that time were being successfully met over 90% from homegrown food. The World Bank ordered the dismantling of the trade laws that protected Honduran domestic producers, and Honduran agriculture was smashed.

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