Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday promised an increase in subsidies for the country’s coffee-growing industry. Farmers have been on strike for almost a week to demand more support for the sector that is suffering economic hardship due to low coffee prices and an expensive peso.
On Twitter, the president said he had ordered his finance and agriculture ministers to convoke a meeting and increase financial aid for coffee farmers who say that because of the coffee prices and peso they are forced to sell their beans below cost price. According to the striking coffee growers, the current subsidies are not sufficient to compensate the losses.
Min. Hacienda y Min. Agricultura llevan instrucción de proponer incremento adicional del apoyo cafetero focalizado en pequeños cultivadores.
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) March 1, 2013
The presidential concession came after talks between the government and strikers were suspended earlier Friday.
Tens of thousands of coffee growers have blocked roads through Colombia since Monday to force the government to come up with solutions for the grower’ economic problems. The Santos administration has condemned the road blocks and has vowed to prosecute farmers who take part in road blocks.
The Colombian coffee growers federation, Fedecafe, has found itself locked between protesters and government. While the federation agrees government subsidies are too low for coffee growers to produce, it has asked its members to refrain from disturbing the public order.
Growers, federation and government representatives meet again on Saturday to find a way out of the negotiations deadlock.