Colombia’s Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo Salazar said Friday that for now the country has no need to import rice.
“For the moment, Colombia is well stocked, not only with rice but other food staples and we do not see the need to authorize additional imports to those made in the first half of the year,” said the minister at the 34th Congress of the rice industry.
At the Congress, the minister also made mention of the free trade pacts that will affect the Colombian rice sector.
“We have to prepare ourselves better for exporting under the free trade agreements,” said the minister referring to matters such as customs duties, health and safety. He has previously said that he was concerned about the fate of rice and dairy farmers when the free trade agreement with the United States goes into effect.
The minister stated his department’s concern with the sanitary law of the United States which he said if not understood or managed well, could a stand in the way of bilateral trade.
Rice accounts for 10% of national agriculture and is the most important short-season crop after corn. The estimated value of the 2011 rice harvest is $2.09 billion. The country has the capacity to store 661,000 tons of rice per month.