Argentine farmers give away bananas to protest low prices

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-03 06:22:41|Editor: Zhou Xin

A resident eats free banana during a protest against unsustainable low prices and imports at Mayo Square, in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, on Aug. 2, 2017. (Xinhua/Martin Zabala)

BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Small-scale farmers from north Argentina gave away some 30,000 kilos of bananas on Wednesday to protest unsustainable low prices and imports harmful to their business.

Disgruntled growers from several provinces traveled to the capital Buenos Aires, and parked their trucks in front of government headquarters, where they began to give bags of bananas away to lines of curious passersby.

Gladys Asselborn, member of an agricultural association that represents small local producers, told reporters growers had exhausted all other channels to no avail, forcing them to seek an audience with President Mauricio Macri.

"Argentina makes quality produce that it is squandering," she said.

"We ask the government to please regulate imports during harvesting season, that's all. We are not in any way asking them to block imports. But they should respect the seasonality of our products," said Asselborn.

Argentina imports bananas from other South American countries, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay.

National growers, which comprise some 5,000 families, don't get more than 1.2 pesos (0.07 U.S. dollars) per kilo, while consumers pay from 20 to 30 pesos, she said.

Argentinians consume about 12 kilos of bananas a year. The country opened up the sector to imports in the 1990s, and prices and production have since dropped.

The provinces of Misiones, Jujuy, Salta and Formosa can together supply some 25 percent of the national demand for bananas, but only represent about 10 percent of the market.

Bystanders sympathized with the farmers, complaining producers were paid too little and consumers were charged too much.

"They pay them one peso, two pesos, and they sell them to us for 40, 50 pesos a kilo of bananas here," Pedro Alfonso said.

"Argentine bananas are the best...," he added.

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